Matthew 11:9
But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet.
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(9) What went ye out for to see? A prophet?—The words again throw the hearers back upon the impressions made on them when they first saw and heard the Baptist. They then went out to see a prophet, and they were not, disappointed. Nothing that they had seen or heard since was to lead them to think less worthily of him now. He was indeed a prophet, taught by the Spirit of Jehovah, predicting the glory of the kingdom; but he was also something more than this—a worker in the fulfilment of what he thus proclaimed.

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.A prophet? - He next asks whether they went to see a prophet. They had regarded him as such, and Jesus tells them that in this their apprehensions of him were correct.

More than a prophet - Sustaining a character more elevated and sacred than the most distinguished of the ancient prophets. Those had been regarded as the most eminent of the prophets who had most clearly predicted the Messiah. Isaiah had been distinguished above all others for the sublimity of his writings, and the clearness with which he had foretold the coming of Christ. Yet John surpassed even him. He lived in the time of the Messiah himself. He predicted his coming with still more clarity. He was the instrument of introducing him to the nation. He was, therefore, first among the prophets.

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. 7-9. Luke repeating the same story, Luke 7:24-26, instead of they that wear soft clothing, saith, they that are gorgeously apparelled, and live delicately, are in kings’ courts. Our Saviour here doth tacitly imply, that the ministers of the gospel should neither be uncertain and inconstant men, nor yet delicate men, affecting splendid apparel or delicate diet, but minding their great work, viz. the revelation of the will of God. But the scope of his present speech here, was to confirm the multitude in their good opinion of John, and to keep them from being scandalized, or altering their opinion of him, because he was now in prison. All men held John as a prophet, Matthew 15:5; 21:26. You went out (saith our Saviour) into the wilderness to hear John preach: you did not go out to see some idle, light man, such as a reed shaken with the wind, nor yet to see a man clothed gorgeously, (the wilderness is no place for such persons, they are to be found in the courts and palaces of princes), you went out to hear one revealing the will of God to you. Nor did you mistake. He was a prophet. Not that Prophet of which Moses spake, Deu 18:15. But a prophet; yea, and more than a prophet; one that hath taught you what none of the prophets ever could teach you, that I, the Messias, am come; they could only tell you that I should come.

But what went ye out for to see?.... Since it was not any thing so mean as a shaking reed, or so grand as a man in gay clothing, pray what was it you went out to see?

A prophet? This was the truth of the matter, they expected to see a prophet, and they believed he was one; this was the common voice of the people; all held John to be a prophet. This made Herod afraid to put him to death, and the Pharisees to speak against his baptism: now, though this was giving him a great character, to believe and own him to be a prophet, yet it did not come up to his full character.

Yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet; when they saw him, they saw not only a prophet, but one that was greater, and more excellent than any of the prophets that went before him: they prophesied of the Messiah at a distance, and in words not so clear, and easy to be understood; they spoke of him as to come, but he pointed him out with his finger, and declared that he was come; he saw him himself, and showed him to others; he saw the Spirit of God descending on him, and he himself baptized him; his office, as the harbinger of Christ, and the administrator of the ordinance of baptism to him, gave him a preference to all the prophets; and was such an one, as never any man was vested with but himself.

But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet.
Matthew 11:9. ἀλλὰ τί ἐξ.: one more question, shorter, abrupt, needing to be supplemented by another (Weiss-Meyer)—why then, seriously, went ye out? προφήτην ἰδεῖν;—to see a Prophet?—ναί, yea l right at last; a prophet, indeed, with all that one expects in a prophet—vigorous moral conviction, integrity, strength of will, fearless zeal for truth and righteousness; utterly free from the feebleness and time-serving of those who bend like reeds to every breath of wind, or bow obsequiously before greatness.—καὶ περισσότερον π., a prophet and more, something above the typical prophet (vide on Matthew 5:47). The clause introduced by ναί, as λέγω ὑμῖν shows, expresses Christ’s own opinion, not the people’s (Weiss).

9. more than a prophet] Other prophets foresaw the Messiah, the Baptist beheld Him, and ushered in His kingdom: he was the herald of the King. Further, John was himself the subject of prophecy.

Matthew 11:9. Προφήτην, a prophet) For a long time they had had no prophets.[517]—ΝΑῚ, yea) A prophet, I say unto you, and something greater than a prophet.—περισσότερονmore) Neuter, as in τὶ, what: sc. when ye went out ye saw something more, etc., although ye did not know it.—προφήτου, than a prophet) For a prophet announces only distant events.

[517] He cannot be accounted as such, unless he were one far removed from (reed-like) fickleness and (courtier-like) effeminacy.—V. g.

Verse 9. - But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? But wherefore went ye out? To see a prophet? (Revised Version). Yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet. Our Lord accepts their estimate of John, but says that it is insufficient. He thus passes on to show the relation in which John stood to himself. John was more than a prophet such as they thought of, for he was "the subject as well as the vehicle of prophecy" (Alford), and was the immediate forerunner of the great King. More than; much more than (Revised Version). Περισσότερομν is probably neuter, for this not only agrees with τι, but emphasizes the thought more than the masculine (cf. Matthew 12:6, note). Matthew 11:9
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