Matthew 13:21
Yet has he not root in himself, but endures for a while: for when tribulation or persecution rises because of the word, by and by he is offended.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(21) Yet hath he not root in himself.—The “root” is obviously the conviction which ripens into a purpose and strikes its fibres deep down into reason, conscience, and will.

Tribulation or persecution.—It is hardly necessary, or indeed possible, to draw any sharp line of demarcation between the two. “Persecution” implies, perhaps, a more organised attack, and therefore greater suffering; “tribulation,” the thousand petty annoyances to which every convert to the faith of Christ was exposed in the first age of the Church, and to which, it may be added, even now most men and women who seek to be Christians in deed as well as in name are at some time or other in their lives exposed. The words explain the “time of temptation” in St. Luke’s report (Luke 8:13).

By and by he is offended.—The adverb is the same as the “anon” of Matthew 13:20, and means “immediately.” The rapidity of the renegade matches that of the convert. Such a man finds a “stumbling-block” in the sufferings he is called to endure, and turns into a smoother path.

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.But he that received the seed into stony places - Jesus explains this as denoting those who hear the gospel; who are caught with it as something new or pleasing; who profess to be greatly delighted with it, and who are full of zeal for it.

Yet they have no root in themselves. They are not true Christians. Their hearts are not changed. They have not seen their guilt and danger, and the true excellency of Christ. They are not "really" attached to the gospel; and when they are tried and persecution comes, they fall - as the rootless grain withers before the scorching rays of the noonday sun.

Anon - "Quickly," or "readily."

With joy receiveth it - They are under deep distress for sin; they are apprehensive of danger; they hear the offer of mercy, and they seem to themselves to embrace the gospel. It offers them peace, pardon, salvation, and religion assumes for a time a lovely aspect. They imagine that they are pardoned, and they have a temporary peace and joy. Their anxieties subside. Their fears are gone. They are for a time happy. "The mere subsiding of anxious feeling from any cause will make the mind for a time happy." They have only to imagine, therefore, that their sins are forgiven, to produce a certain kind of peace and joy. But there is no ground of permanent joy, as there is in true pardon, and soon their joy subsides, and all evidence of piety disappears. There is no strength of principle to resist temptation; there is no real love of the Saviour; and in times of trial and persecution they show that they have no true religion, and fall away.

By and by - Mark, "Immediately." That is, it soon occurs, or this is an effect which may be expected soon to follow.

Is offended - Stumbles or falls, for this is the meaning of the word "offend" in the New Testament. See the notes at Matthew 5:29. Persecution and trial are placed in his path, and he falls as he would over a "stumbling-block." He has no strength of principle - no real confidence in God - no true religion. Mere excited animal feeling is all that he ever had, and that is not sufficient to sustain him when the trial comes.

17. For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired—rather, "coveted."

to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them—Not only were the disciples blessed above the blinded just spoken of, but favored above the most honored and the best that lived under the old economy, who had but glimpses of the things of the new kingdom, just sufficient to kindle in them desires not to be fulfilled to any in their day. In Lu 10:23, 24, where the same saying is repeated on the return of the Seventy—the words, instead of "many prophets and righteous men," are "many prophets and kings"; for several of the Old Testament saints were kings.

Second and Seventh Parables or First Pair:

The Wheat and the Tares, and The Good and Bad Fish (Mt 13:24-30, 36-43, 47-50).

The subject of both these parables—which teach the same truth, with a slight diversity of aspect—is:

The MIXED CHARACTER OF THE Kingdom in Its Present State, and the FINAL ABSOLUTE SEPARATION OF THE Two Classes.

The Tares and the Wheat (Mt 13:24-30, 36-43).

Ver. 20,21. Both Mark and Luke have this with no difference, save only in words, Mark 4:16,17 Lu 8:13. What Matthew calleth stony ground, Luke calls the rock. By the sun being up, and scorching the seed, in the parable, our Saviour meant tribulation or persecution, which Luke calleth a time of temptation, Luke 8:13.

Stony places are places where may be a little earth, but not much; he is here likened to such ground, who heareth the word, and anon (the Greek is euyuv, which signifieth presently) with joy receiveth it, as Herod is said to have heard John the Baptist gladly. The word of God (as some other objects) doth often on the sudden affect some persons in whom it doth not take any deep root. A sudden passion surprises them, which is but like the overflowing of a brook, which is quickly down.

Yet hath he not root in himself, &c. Our Saviour here assigns two causes of such hearers falling away, the one internal, the other external; the former is the great cause of the latter. By root in himself some understand constancy, or a serious resolution and purpose of heart; but this is doubtless but the product of this root, which is the same thing which the apostle calls the seed of God, Job calls the root of the matter; a principle of grace in a heart truly touched with the love of God and of his truth.

But dureth for a while; no longer than he thinks that he can by his profession attain the end he aimed at and propounded to himself, be it riches, or honour and reputation.

But when tribulation or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, or because of the word, when he seeth that he cannot own his profession without the danger of his estate, life, liberty, places, and preferments, &c.

by and by he is offended, made to stumble and fall, he falls off from all his former profession of the gospel. Yet hath he not root in himself,.... Nor in Christ; the word is not rooted in him, nor has he the root of the matter, or the truth of grace in him:

but dureth for a while; a hearer of the word, a professor of religion, showing some outward respect to the word, and to the preachers of it:

for when tribulation or persecution ariseth, because of the word; which is often the case, and must be expected by those who embrace the Gospel, profess the name of Christ, and are willing to live godly in him. Tribulation may intend some lesser and lighter troubles for the sake of Christ, and his Gospel; such as the revilings and reproaches of men, loss of character, and trade, &c. and persecution may design something more public and vehement; such as confiscation of goods, imprisonment, and danger of life, the most exquisite tortures, and death in the most cruel form and shape; things very disagreeable to flesh and blood, and which cannot be endured, and submitted to, by persons without a principle of grace, by one that has no root in himself. Luke calls this a time "of temptation", or trial, as it is either way, both by private troubles, and more public persecutions: these try men's principles and professions, and whether the truth of grace is in them or not; and where it is not in any person,

by and by he is offended; at the cross; he shrinks back from it, does not care to take it up, and follow Christ; but drops his religion, and the profession of it; apostatises, falls away, and comes to nothing.

Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Matthew 13:21. Description of one whose mind is so stirred as instantly to welcome the word with joy, but who, when subjected to the testing influence of affliction, abandons his faith and relapses into his former condition. Such an one is without root in his own inner being, i.e. he is destitute of that faith (Ephesians 3:16 f.) which, as a power in the heart, is fitted to maintain and foster the life that has been momentarily awakened by means of the word.

πρόσκαιρος] temporary, not lasting, not enduring. See Wetstein.

θλίψεως ἢ διωγμοῦ] by means of the “or” the special is added on to the general.

σκανδαλίζεται] he encounters a stumbling-block, i.e. a temptation to unbelief; see notes on Matthew 5:29, Matthew 1:6. Affliction in his case proves a πειρασμός to which he succumbs. Substantially the same as Luke 8:13 : ἀφίστανται.Matthew 13:21. οὐκ ἔχει: instead of the participle ἔχων under the influence of Mk.’s text (Weiss).—πρόσκαιρος. temporary, cf. 2 Corinthians 4:18.21. when tribulation or persecution ariseth] Jesus forecasts the persecution of Christians, and the time when “the love of many shall wax cold,” ch. Matthew 24:12.

is offended] See note, ch. Matthew 5:29. All things are not so smooth as he expected. The prospect of the cross took all enthusiasm away from Judas. Perhaps even Mark was “offended” for the moment at Perga.Matthew 13:21. Ῥίζαν, root) which is plainly necessary, and springs from the word itself.—πρόσκαιρός ἐστι, is temporary)[613] He believes whilst the time inclines him; see Luke 8:13. The adjective τρόσκαιρος, taken alone, expresses somewhat good, but without perseverance; it is therefore followed here by the adversative particle δὲ, but, and in Mark 4:17, by εἶτα, afterwards.—θλίψεως, affliction) generally.—διωγμοῦ, persecution) specifically.[614]—διὰ τὸν λόγον, because of the word) when it is propagated by the mouth and expressed by the life.—εὐθὺς, immediately) That which is quickly produced, perishes quickly.[615]

[613] E. V. “dureth for a while.”—(I. B.)

[614] Persecution can be brought to bear against one either by an unkind side look, or by a jesting speech added in the way of mockery.—V. g.

[615] Σκανδαλίζεται) He is offended, and therefore relapses into unbelief.—V. g.Verse 21. - But dureth for a while (ἀλλὰ πρόσκαιρός ἐστιν). Luke's οἱ πρὸς καιρὸν πιστεύουσιν, is an evidently later form. (For the thought, cf. John 5:35.) By and by; straightway (Revised Version, εὐθύς). He is offended (Matthew 5:29, note). Dureth for a while (πρόσκαιρός ἐστιν)

Rev., endureth. Lit., is temporary: thus bringing out the quality of the hearer. He is a creature of circumstances, changing as they change. Wyc., is temporal, with explanation, lasteth but a little time.

For (δὲ)

Rev. better, and, for the following clause does not give a reason for the temporariness, but adds something to the description of the hearer.

Tribulation (θλίψεως)

θλίβω, to press or squeeze. Tribulation is perhaps as accurate a rendering as is possible, being derived from tribulum, the threshing-roller of the Romans. In both the idea of pressure is dominant, though θλῖψιμ, does not convey the idea of separation (as of corn from husk) which is implied in tribulatio. Trench cites, in illustration of θλῖψις, pressure, the provision of the old English law, by which those who wilfully refused to plead had heavy weights placed on their breasts, and so were pressed and crushed to death ("Synonyms of the New Testament").

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