Matthew 13:11
He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(11) It is given.—Better, it has been given, as by the special act of God.

To know the mysteries.—The Greek word, like “parable,” has passed into modern languages, and has suffered some change of meaning in the process. Strictly speaking, it does not mean, as we sometimes use it—when we speak, e.g., of the mystery of the Trinity, a truth which none can understand—something “awfully obscure” (the definition given in Johnson’s Dictionary), but one which, kept a secret from others, has been revealed to the initiated. Interpreted by our Lord’s teaching up to this time, the mysteries of the kingdom may be referred to the new birth of water and the Spirit (John 3:5), the judgment to be exercised hereafter by the Son of Man (John 5:25), the power of the Son of Man to forgive sins (John 9:6), the new ideas (no other word will express the fact so well) which He had proclaimed as to the Sabbath (John 12:8), and fasting, and prayer, and alms (John 6:1-18). Those ideas had been proved occasions of offence, and therefore, for the present, the Teacher falls back upon a method of more exoteric instruction.

13:1-23 Jesus entered into a boat that he might be the less pressed, and be the better heard by the people. By this he teaches us in the outward circumstances of worship not to covet that which is stately, but to make the best of the conveniences God in his providence allots to us. Christ taught in parables. Thereby the things of God were made more plain and easy to those willing to be taught, and at the same time more difficult and obscure to those who were willingly ignorant. The parable of the sower is plain. The seed sown is the word of God. The sower is our Lord Jesus Christ, by himself, or by his ministers. Preaching to a multitude is sowing the corn; we know not where it will light. Some sort of ground, though we take ever so much pains with it, brings forth no fruit to purpose, while the good soil brings forth plentifully. So it is with the hearts of men, whose different characters are here described by four sorts of ground. Careless, trifling hearers, are an easy prey to Satan; who, as he is the great murderer of souls, so he is the great thief of sermons, and will be sure to rob us of the word, if we take not care to keep it. Hypocrites, like the stony ground, often get the start of true Christians in the shows of profession. Many are glad to hear a good sermon, who do not profit by it. They are told of free salvation, of the believer's privileges, and the happiness of heaven; and, without any change of heart, without any abiding conviction of their own depravity, their need of a Saviour, or the excellence of holiness, they soon profess an unwarranted assurance. But when some heavy trial threatens them, or some sinful advantage may be had, they give up or disguise their profession, or turn to some easier system. Worldly cares are fitly compared to thorns, for they came in with sin, and are a fruit of the curse; they are good in their place to stop a gap, but a man must be well armed that has much to do with them; they are entangling, vexing, scratching, and their end is to be burned, Heb 6:8. Worldly cares are great hinderances to our profiting by the word of God. The deceitfulness of riches does the mischief; they cannot be said to deceive us unless we put our trust in them, then they choke the good seed. What distinguished the good ground was fruitfulness. By this true Christians are distinguished from hypocrites. Christ does not say that this good ground has no stones in it, or no thorns; but none that could hinder its fruitfulness. All are not alike; we should aim at the highest, to bring forth most fruit. The sense of hearing cannot be better employed than in hearing God's word; and let us look to ourselves that we may know what sort of hearers we are.The mysteries of the kingdom - The word "mystery," in the Bible, properly means a thing that is "concealed," or that "has been concealed." It does not mean that the thing was "incomprehensible," or even difficult to be understood.

The thing might be "plain" enough if revealed, but it means simply that it "had" not been before made known. Thus the "mysteries of the kingdom" do not mean any doctrines incomprehensible in themselves considered, but simply doctrines about the preaching of the gospel and the establishment of the new kingdom of the Messiah, which "had not" been understood, and which were as yet concealed from the great body of the Jews. See Romans 16:25; Romans 11:25; Ephesians 3:3-4, Ephesians 3:9. Of this nature was the truth that the gospel was to be preached to the Gentiles; that the Jewish polity was to cease; that the Messiah was to die, etc. To the disciples it was given to know these truths. This was important for them, as they were to carry the gospel around the globe. To the others it was not "then" given. They were too gross, too earthly; they had too, grovelling conceptions of the Messiah's kingdom to understand these truths, even if communicated to them. They were not to preach the gospel, and hence our Saviour was at particular pains to instruct his apostles in the system which they were to preach. The Pharisees, and Jews generally, were not prepared to receive the system, and would not have believed it, and therefore he purposely employed a kind of teaching which was intended for his apostles only.

11. He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven—The word "mysteries" in Scripture is not used in its classical sense—of religious secrets, nor yet of things incomprehensible, or in their own nature difficult to be understood—but in the sense of things of purely divine revelation, and, usually, things darkly announced under the ancient economy, and during all that period darkly understood, but fully published under the Gospel (1Co 2:6-10; Eph 3:3-6, 8, 9). "The mysteries of the kingdom of heaven," then, mean those glorious Gospel truths which at that time only the more advanced disciples could appreciate, and they but partially.

but to them it is not given—(See on [1287]Mt 11:25). Parables serve the double purpose of revealing and concealing; presenting "the mysteries of the kingdom" to those who know and relish them, though in never so small a degree, in a new and attractive light; but to those who are insensible to spiritual things yielding only, as so many tales, some temporary entertainment.

See Poole on "Matthew 13:12".

He answered, and said unto them,.... Christ was always ready to give an answer to his inquiring disciples, concerning his ministry, and his conduct in it; which shows great respect to them, and condescension in him:

because it is given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven: by the "kingdom of heaven", is meant the Gospel, which treats of the kingdom of heaven, and of things pertaining to it; of the saints' meetness for it, which is the regenerating and sanctifying grace of the Spirit; and of their right to it, which lies in the justifying righteousness of Christ. The "mysteries" of it intend the sublime doctrines thereof; such as relate to the Trinity of persons in the Godhead, to the incarnation of Christ, and the union of the two natures, human and divine, in him, eternal predestination, redemption by Christ, satisfaction by his sacrifice, justification by his righteousness, and pardon through his blood, the resurrection from the dead, &c. things, though clearly revealed, yet may have difficulties attending them, and which are not very easily solved: now to know and understand the great truths of the Gospel, spiritually, savingly, and experimentally, is not from nature, or to be acquired by men's industry, but is the gift of God's grace, flowing from his sovereign will and pleasure; a favour which the disciples of Christ, as a chosen people, receive from the Lord, and which is denied others:

but to them it is not given; to the wise and prudent, to the Scribes and Pharisees, to the multitude, to the bulk and generality of the people, to the rest that were blinded. Mark calls them "them that are without"; who are not in the number of God's elect; nor within the covenant of grace, nor among the disciples of Christ; referring to a common way of speaking among the Jews, who used to call the Gentiles, all without their land, "they that are without"; and indeed all within themselves that despised the rules and judgment of the wise men (i): but Christ here calls the wise men themselves such. Now our Lord, who was privy to the secret and sovereign dispensation of God, who, of his own will and pleasure, had determined to give a spiritual and saving knowledge of divine things to some, and deny it to others, made this the rule of his conduct in his ministry; that is to say, he preached in parables to some without an explication, whilst he spoke plainly to others; and, if in parables, yet gave them an interpretation, and an understanding of them.

(i) Vid. T. Bab. Megilla, fol. 24. 2. & Gloss. in ib.

{2} He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.

(2) The gift of understanding and faith is given only to the elect, and all the rest are blinded through the just judgment of God.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Matthew 13:11. Δέδοται] by God, through the unfolding, that is, of your inward powers of perception, not merely by means of the exposition (Weizsäcker, p. 413). The opposite condition, Matthew 13:13.

γνῶναι] even without the help of parabolic illustration, although previous to the outpouring of the Spirit, nay, previous to the second coming (1 Corinthians 13:9 f.), this would always be the case only to an imperfect degree.

τὰ μυστ. τ. βας. τ. οὐραν.] the secret things of the Messiah’s kingdom, things which refer to the Messiah’s kingdom. They are called μυστήρια, because their ἀποκάλυψις was now being brought about for the first time by means of the gospel. Comp. note on Romans 11:25; Romans 16:25. They are the purposes that are hid in God, which man can only know by the help of divine teaching, and which the gospel unveils.

ἐκείνοις δὲ οὐ δέδοται] is still to be connected with ὅτι (because).

11. the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven] Secrets known only to the initiated—the inner teaching of the gospel. St Paul regards as “mysteries,” the spread of the gospel to the Gentiles, Ephesians 3:3-4; Ephesians 3:9; the doctrine of the resurrection, 1 Corinthians 15:51, the conversion of the Jews, Romans 11:25.

Matthew 13:11. Ὅτι, because) This may be referred to the preceding διατί, why? Cf. in Matthew 13:13, διὰ τοῦτο, therefore.—ὑμῖν, to you) who have.—τὰ μυστήρια, the mysteries) This term is applied, not to all things which all ought to know from revelation, but to those things which they, to whom secret things are revealed, know beyond those who know only what is strictly necessary.—ἐκείνοις, to them) who are without, in contradistinction to ὑμῖν, you, who are within.[602] οὐ δέδοται, it is not given) sc. to comprehend mysteries fully and clearly.[603]

[602] In the original, “hoc vim habet removendi.” I have paraphrased it, so as to express Benge’s meaning in a manner intelligible to the English reader.—(I. B.)

[603] In the original, “nosse mysteria nuda.” Literally, to know mysteries naked, i.e. fully revealed, without concealment or obscurity.—(I. B.)

“Mysteria nuda,” mysteries without the clothing of the parabolic form or guise.—ED.

Verse 11. - He answered and said unto them, Because. Omit because, with the Revised Version. The ὅτι is merely recitative. In this verse our Lord does not directly reply to their question, but only states God's ways of dealing with the two different classes of people (cf. Matthew 11:25, note). It is given unto you (unto you it is given, Revised Version); which better represents the sharpness of the antithesis in the Greek. It is given; already (δέδοται), i.e. in the counsel of God, though now given in possession, so far as regards this parable, by the explanation that I will add. To know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven. The secrets about the establishment and development of God's realm, which cannot be discovered by human reason, but which are made known to the initiated. Under the term "mystery," St. Paul refers to such revealed secrets as the preaching of the gospel to the Gentiles (Ephesians 3:3, 4, 9; Colossians 1:26), the conversion of the Jews (Romans 11:25), the relation of Christ to the Church being like that of husband and wife (Ephesians 5:32), and the general resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:51). (Cf. Matthew 11:25, note, "revealed;" and infra, ver. 35, note, and especially Bishop Lightfoot on the passage in Colossians.) But to them it is not given. Professor Marshall suggests that the variation "the rest" (Luke), points to a slight difference in one word of the original Aramaic text, the phrase in Mark ("them that are without") combining both readings (see Expositor IV. 4:446). The suggestion is ingenious, but seems hardly necessary. Matthew 13:11Mysteries (μυστήρια)

From μύω, to close or shut. In classical Greek, applied to certain religious celebrations to which persons were admitted by formal initiation, and the precise character of which is unknown. Some suppose them to have been revelations of religious secrets; others of secret politico-religious doctrines; others, again, scenic representations of mythical legends. In this latter sense the term was used in the Middle Ages of miracle-plays - rude dramas representing scenes from scripture and from the apocryphal gospels. Such plays are still enacted among the Basque mountaineers. (See Vincent, "In the Shadow of the Pyrenees.")

A mystery does not denote an unknowable thing, but one which is withdrawn from knowledge or manifestation, and which cannot be known without special manifestation of it. Hence appropriate to the things of the kingdom of heaven, which could be known only by revelation. Paul (Philippians 4:12) says, "I am instructed (μεμύημαι) both to be full and to be hungry," etc. But Rev. gives more correctly the force of instructed, by rendering I have learned the secret: the verb being μυέω (from the same root as μυστήρια) to initiate into the mysteries.

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