Matthew 13:55
Is not this the carpenter's son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?
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(55) Is not this the carpenter’s son?—In St. Mark, the question appears in the form, “Is not this the carpenter?” and it is, of course, in the nature of things probable that He both helped in the workshop during Joseph’s life, and assisted the “brethren” to carry on the work after his death. Justin Martyr (Dial. c. Tryph. c. 88) relates that in his time articles said to have been made by Him, such as rakes and harrows, were in demand as relics. The apocryphal Gospel of the Infancy, after its manner, makes Him instruct Joseph when he was bungling at his work.

And his brethren.—See Note on Matthew 12:46.

Joses.—The authority of MSS. is in favour of the reading, “Joseph.” It was, of course, probable that the name of the father should be borne by one of those who were in some sense his children. Joses. however, was probably but a softened form of the same name.

13:53-58 Christ repeats his offer to those who have repulsed them. They upbraid him, Is not this the carpenter's son? Yes, it is true he was reputed to be so; and no disgrace to be the son of an honest tradesman; they should have respected him the more because he was one of themselves, but therefore they despised him. He did not many mighty works there, because of their unbelief. Unbelief is the great hinderance to Christ's favours. Let us keep faithful to him as the Saviour who has made our peace with God.Is not this the carpenter's son? - Mark says, "Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary?" Both these expressions would probably be used in the course of the conversation, and Matthew has recorded one and Mark the other. The expression recorded by Mark is a strong, perhaps decisive proof that he had himself worked at the business until he was 30 years of age. The people in the neighborhood would understand well the nature of his early employments. It is therefore almost certain that this had been his manner of life. A useful employment is always honorable. Idleness is the parent of mischief. Our Saviour, therefore, spent the greatest part of his life in honest, useful industry. Until the age of 30 he did not choose to enter on his great work; and it was proper before that time that he should set an example to the world of honorable though humble industry. Life is not wasted in such employments. They are appointed as the lot of man; and in the faithful discharge of duties in the relations of life, though obscure; in honest industry, however humble; in patient labor, if connected with a life of religion, we may be sure that God will approve our conduct. It was, moreover, the custom of the Jews - even those of wealth and learning - to train all their children to some "trade" or manual occupation. Thus Paul was a tent-maker. Compare Acts 18:3.

This was, on the part of the Saviour, an example of great condescension and humility. It staggers the faith of many that the Son of God should labour in an occupation so obscure and lowly. The infidel sneers at the idea that "He that made the worlds" should live thirty years in humble life as a poor and unknown mechanic. Yet the same infidel will loudly praise Peter the Great of Russia because he laid aside his imperial dignity and entered the British service as a "ship-carpenter," that he might learn the art of building a navy. Was the purpose of "Peter" of more importance than that of the Son of God? If Peter, the heir to the throne of the Czars, might leave his elevated rank and descend to a humble employment, and secure by it the applause of the world, why might not the King of kings evince a similar character for an infinitely higher object?

His brethren, James ... - The fair interpretation of this passage is, that these were the sons and daughters of Joseph and Mary. The people in the neighborhood thought so, and spoke of them as such.

55. Is not this the carpenter's son?—In Mark (Mr 6:3) the question is, "Is not this the carpenter?" In all likelihood, our Lord, during His stay under the roof of His earthly parents, wrought along with His legal father.

is not his mother called Mary?—"Do we not know all about His parentage? Has He not grown up in the midst of us? Are not all His relatives our own townsfolk? Whence, then, such wisdom and such miracles?" These particulars of our Lord's human history constitute the most valuable testimony, first, to His true and real humanity—for they prove that during all His first thirty years His townsmen had discovered nothing about Him different from other men; secondly, to the divine character of His mission—for these Nazarenes proclaim both the unparalleled character of His teaching and the reality and glory of His miracles, as transcending human ability; and thirdly, to His wonderful humility and self-denial—in that when He was such as they now saw Him to be, He yet never gave any indications of it for thirty years, because "His hour was not yet come."

And his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?

See Poole on "Matthew 13:57".

Is not this the carpenter's son?.... Meaning Joseph, who was by trade a carpenter, and whose son Jesus was supposed to be; and who very probably was now dead, which may be the reason he is not mentioned by name. The Greek word here used, signifies any mechanic, or artificer. The Syriac expresses it by a word, which signifies both a carpenter and a blacksmith; and Munster's Hebrew Gospel renders it, , "the blacksmith's son". But the generally received notion of the ancient Christians is, that he was a carpenter, and that Jesus was brought up to the same business, which lay in making ploughs and yokes (q). This also appears, from the answer the Christian schoolmaster at Antioch gave to Libanius the sophister; who being big with expectation of Julian the apostate's getting the victory, asked the schoolmaster, what he thought the carpenter's son was doing? To which, after a short pause, he replied; O sophister! the Creator of all things, whom thou callest the carpenter's son, is making a coffin for Julian; who accordingly died in a few days after (r). The Jews make mention of one Abba Joseph, "the builder", or carpenter (s); but whether the same, is not certain. What they here say, was no doubt by way of derision and contempt; and yet the same phrase is used by them of a person of great note and fame, for his wisdom and knowledge: thus speaking of a difficult point, they (t) say,

" .

"no carpenter", or smith, or a carpenter's son, can solve this: says R. Shesheth, I am neither a carpenter, nor a carpenter's son, and I can solve it.

The gloss upon it is,

"a wise man, the son of a wise man.

Is not his mother called Mary? Plain Mary, without any other title, or civil respect; a poor spinstress, that got her bread by her hand labour: the Jews say (u), she was a plaiter of women's hair, and treat her with the utmost scorn,

And his brethren; not strictly so, but either the sons of Joseph by a former wife; or Mary's, or Joseph's brothers or sisters sons, and so cousins to Christ; it being usual with the Jews to call such, and even more distant relations, brethren:

James; the son of Alphaeus, or Cleophas, one of Christ's disciples,

Matthew 10:3 called the Lord's brother, Galatians 1:19 and the same that wrote the epistle that bears his name:

and Joses; or Joseph, as the Vulgate Latin, and Munster's Hebrew Gospel read; and which two names are one and the same: hence, in Talmudic writings, we often read of R. Jose, who is the same with R. Joseph (w): this Joses is, by Dr. Lightfoot, conjectured to be the same with Joseph, called Barsabas, who was put in nomination for apostleship, after the death of Judas, Acts 1:23.

And Simon; or Symeon, the son of Cleophas, who is said (x) to succeed James, as bishop of Jerusalem, and to be Christ's cousin, being son of Cleophas, the brother of Joseph, the supposed father of Christ:

and Judas; the same that is called Lebbaeus, and Thaddaeus,

Matthew 10:3 and the brother of James, Luke 6:16 and the same that wrote the epistle that goes by his name. The Jews ought not to have made these remarks, since many of their great doctors were of mean parentage; as R. Zachariah was a butcher's son (y), and R. Jochanan a blacksmith's son (z); hence that advice of R. Juda ben Bethira (a),

"take heed that ye do not reproach the sons of the common people, for from them comes forth the law.


Is not this the carpenter's son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?
Matthew 13:55 ff. Τοῦ τέκτονος] of the carpenter, which, however, also embraces other workers in wood (the cabinetmaker, the cartwright, and such like). See Philo, Cod. apocr. I. p. 368 f.; Justin, c. Tryph. 88; Suicer, Thes. II. p. 1254 f. In Mark 6:3, Jesus Himself is spoken of by the people as ὁ τέκτων, and certainly not without reason; see note on that passage.

οἱ ἀδελφοὶ αὐτοῦ] See note on Matthew 12:46.

According to the reading ʼΙωσήφ, there was only one of the sons of that Mary, who was the wife of Alphaeus, who was certainly of the same name, viz. James (Matthew 27:56; on the Judas, brother of James, see note on Luke 6:16). But if this Mary, as is usually supposed, had been the sister of the mother of Jesus, we would have been confronted with the unexampled difficulty of two sisters bearing the same name. However, the passage quoted in support of this view, viz. John 19:25, should, with Wieseler, be so interpreted as to make it evident that the sister of Jesus’ mother was not Mary, but Salome. Comp. note on John 1:1.

πᾶσαι] therefore hardly to be understood, as some of the Fathers did (in Philo, Cod. apocr. p. 363), as meaning only two.

Observe, further, that in the course of what is said about the relatives, there is not the slightest indication of their being supposed to be different from the ordinary inhabitants of the place.

οὐκ ἔστι προφήτηςἐν τῇ πατρίδι αὐτοῦ (not αὑτοῦ) κ. ἐν τ. οἰκ. αὐτ. is (John 4:44) a principle founded on experience, which is found to apply to the present case only as relatively true, seeing that, under different conditions, the contrary might prove to be the case.

The ἐν τ. οἰκίᾳ αὐτοῦ, in his own family (Matthew 12:25), corresponds with John 7:3, comp. Mark 3:20. See also the note on Matthew 12:46-50.

Matthew 13:55. ὁ τ. τέκτονος υἱός: Mk. has ὁ τέκτων, which our evangelist avoids; the son of the carpenter, one only in the town, well known to all.—ΜαριὰμΙάκωβος, etc., names given of mother and brothers, to show how well they know the whole family. And this other man just come back is simply another of the family whose name happens to be Jesus. Why should He be so different? It is an absurdity, an offence, not to be commonplace. The irritation of the Nazareans is satisfactory evidence of the extraordinary in Jesus.

55. the carpenter’s son] “Is not this the carpenter?” (Mark). As every Jew was taught a trade there would be no improbability in the carpenter’s son becoming a scribe. But it was known that Jesus had not had the ordinary education of a scribe.

his brethren] Probably the sons of Joseph and Mary. It is certain that no other view would ever have been propounded except for the assumption that the blessed Virgin remained ever-virgin.

Two theories have been mooted in support of this assumption. (1) The “brethren of the Lord” were His cousins, being sons of Cleophas (or Alphæus), and Mary, a sister of the Virgin Mary. (2) They were sons of Joseph by a former marriage.

Neither of these theories derives any support from the direct words of Scripture, and some facts tend to disprove either. The second theory is the least open to objection on the ground of language, and of the facts of the gospel.

Matthew 13:55. Τοῦ τέκτονοςἡ μήτηρ, of the carpenter—His mother) Hence it may be inferred that Joseph had long been dead, and that Mary had lived in obscurity.—ΜαριὰμἸάκωβος, Mary—James) They speak of them thus as if they had nothing but a name, by which name they were well known.

Verse 55. - Is not this the carpenter's son? In Mark, "the carpenter, the son of Mary," which may possibly be a doctrinal correction, made to avoid representing our Lord as the son of Joseph, but is more probably the earlier form of the narrative (due to immediate and, perhaps, local knowledge), which St. Matthew, or one of those who transmitted the source he used, avoided out of a feeling of reverence. In the Apocryphal Gospels our Lord is not represented as a carpenter himself, but as helping Joseph by miraculously lengthening a piece of wood which Joseph had cut too short (e.g. 'Pseudo-Matthew,' § 37; 'Gospel of Thomas,' first Greek form, § 13; contrast Justin Martyr, Dial. with Trypho,' § 88). Is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren (Matthew 12:46). Probably sons of Joseph by a former wife (see Bishop Lightfoot's classical dissertation in 'Galatians'). James. Afterwards "bishop" of Jerusalem (Galatians 1:19; Acts 15:13), and the author of the Epistle. And Joses; Joseph (Revised Version), which is also probably right in Matthew 27:56. Joses is the Graecised form (see Westcott and Hort, 'Append.'). And Simon, and Judas. Probably the author of the Epistle. Matthew 13:55
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