Matthew 15:4
For God commanded, saying, Honor your father and mother: and, He that curses father or mother, let him die the death.
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(4) God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and thy mother.—At first it might seem as if our Lord Himself, no less than the Pharisees, had taught men to think lightly of the commandment on which He now lays stress. He had called on men to forsake father and mother for the sake of the gospel (Matthew 4:18; Matthew 4:22), and had excluded from discipleship those who loved father and mother more than they loved Him (Matthew 10:37). We need not close our eyes to the difficulty which thus presents itself. But the answer is not far to seek. In our Lord’s teaching, a lower, natural duty was to give way exceptionally to a higher and supernatural one; otherwise it remained in full force. In that of the Pharisees the natural duty, enforced by a direct divine commandment, was made to give way to one which was purely human, arbitrary, and conventional. The two cases were not only not analogous, but stood on an entirely different footing.

15:1-9 Additions to God's laws reflect upon his wisdom, as if he had left out something which was needed, and which man could supply; in one way or other they always lead men to disobey God. How thankful ought we to be for the written word of God! Never let us think that the religion of the Bible can be improved by any human addition, either in doctrine or practice. Our blessed Lord spoke of their traditions as inventions of their own, and pointed out one instance in which this was very clear, that of their transgressing the fifth commandment. When a parent's wants called for assistance, they pleaded, that they had devoted to the temple all they could spare, even though they did not part with it, and therefore their parents must expect nothing from them. This was making the command of God of no effect. The doom of hypocrites is put in a little compass; In vain do they worship me. It will neither please God, nor profit themselves; they trust in vanity, and vanity will be their recompence.For God commanded ... - That is, in the fifth commandment Exodus 20:12, and in Exodus 21:17. To "honor" is to obey, to reverence, to speak kindly to, to speak and think well of. To "curse" is to disobey, to treat with irreverence, to swear at, to speak ill of, to think evil of in the heart, to meditate or do any evil to a parent. All this is included in the original word.

Let him die the death - This is a Hebrew phrase, the same as saying, "let him surely die." The Jewish law punished this crime with death. This duty of honoring and obeying a parent was what Christ said they had violated by their traditions. He proceeds to state the way in which it was done.

4. For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother—(De 5:16).

and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death—(Ex 21:17).

See Poole on "Matthew 15:6". For God commanded, saying,.... That he might not be thought to suggest this without any foundation, he gives them an instance, wherein a command of God was transgressed, by the observance of their tradition: the command he refers to, stands in Exodus 20:12 and is this;

Honour thy father and mother. This was a plain command of God, written with his own hand, and delivered by Moses to them; it was of a moral nature, and of eternal obligation: and to be understood, not merely of that high esteem parents are to be had in by their children, and of the respectful language and gesture to be used towards them, and of the cheerful obedience to be yielded to them; but also of honouring them with their substance, feeding, clothing, and supplying them with the necessaries of life, when they stand in need thereof; which is but their reasonable service, for all the care, expense, and trouble they have been at, in bringing them up in the world: nor did the Jews deny this to be the duty of children to their parents, and own it to be the sense of the commandment: they say (p), that this is the weightiest commandment among the weighty ones, even this, the honouring of father and mother; and ask,

"What is this honour? To which is replied, he must give him food, drink, and clothing; buckle his shoes, and lead him in, and bring him out.''

They indeed laid down this as a rule, and it seems a very equitable one (q); that,

"when a man's father has any money, or substance, he must be supported out of that; but if he has none, he must support him out of his own.''

But then, as will be seen hereafter, they made void this command of God, and their own explications of it, by some other tradition. Moreover, Christ observes, that it is said, Exodus 21:17

And he that curseth father or mother, let him die the death; temporal and eternal: and which is a positive command of God, made as a fence for the former; and is to be understood, not only of giving abusive language to parents, but of slighting, as the Hebrew word signifies, and neglecting them, taking no notice of them, when needy and in distress, to supply their wants. Now these commands of God, Christ shows the Jews transgressed by their tradition, as appears from the following verses.

(p) T. Hieros. Kiddushin, fol. 61. 2.((q) Piske Toseph. ad T. Bab. Kiddushin, art. 61.

For God commanded, saying, {b} Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death.

(b) By honour is meant every duty which children owe to their parents.

Matthew 15:4. Exodus 20:12; Exodus 21:17.

τίμα] involves the idea of a practical manifestation of reverence in the form of kind deeds, Matthew 15:5.

θανάτῳ τελευτ.] מוֹת יוּמָת, the meaning of which (he shall certainly die, he executed) has not been exactly hit by the LXX. in the phrase θανάτῳ τελ., though it is in conformity, with Greek idiom: He shall end (Matthew 2:19) by death (execution, Plat. Rep. p. 492 D, and very frequently in classical writers). See Lobeck, Paral. p. 523; Köster, Erläut. p. 53.Matthew 15:4. ὁ γὰρ θεὸς: counter charge substantiated. The question being the validity of the tradition and its value, its evil tendency might be illustrated at will in connection with any moral interest. It might have been illustrated directly in connection with moral purity versus ceremonial. The actual selection characteristic of Jesus as humane, and felicitous as exceptionally clear.—τίμʼτελευτάτω: fifth commandment (Exodus 20:12), with its penal sanction (Exodus 21:17).4. For God commanded] “For Moses said” (Mark).Matthew 15:4. Ὁ γὰρ Θεὸς, for God) In contrast with ὑμεῖς δὲ, but you, in Matthew 15:5.—τίμα, honour) Honour signifies benefits which are due (see Gnomon on 1 Timothy 5:3), the denial of which is the greatest insult. Thus, in the S. V. of Proverbs 3:9, τίμα τὸν Κύριον (honour the Lord) occurs with reference to sacrifices. An instance of metonymy of the antecedent for the consequent. In Exodus 20:12, S. V., it stands thus:—τίμα τὸν πατέρα σου καὶ τὴν μητέρα σου: honour thy father and thy mother. The second σου (thy) is not expressed in the present passage.—ὁ κακολογῶν, he that curseth) In Exodus 21:16 : ὁ κακολογῶν πατέρα αὐτοῦ ἢ μητέρα αὐτοῦ θανάτῳ τελευτάτω:[680] he that curseth his father or his mother, let him die[681] the death.—Life is assailed by curses, and children receive their life through their parents.—θανάτῳ, death) Observe this, O youth!

[680] The Vatican MS. reads τελευτήσει θανάτῳ.—(I. B.)

[681] Lit. “Let him die by death.”—(I. B.)Verse 4. - Christ proceeds to give an instance of the evacuation of the Law by means of tradition. God commanded. Mark, in the parallel passage, has, "Moses said," which may be taken, in conjunction with our text, as conveying our Lord's testimony to the Divine origin of the Mosaic code. Christ cites the fifth commandment, because it more especially appealed to the conscience of every one, and was emphasized by the solemn enactment of death as the penalty of its infringement (Exodus 20:12; Exodus 21:17). Honour (τίμα). This term includes the idea of succor and support, as in 1 Timothy 5:3, "Honour widows that are widows indeed;" and in 1 Timothy 5:17, where τιμὴ means "stipend." In Ecclus. 38:1, "Honour a physician with the honours due unto him," the expression has reference to his proper fees, the honorarium paid for his services. In God's view honour to parents is not shown only in outward salutations, obedience, and respect, but also in material assistance, help provided for their needs, alms freely bestowed when necessary. This well known signification makes the tradition next given more inexcusable. Die the death. An Hebraism, equivalent to "shall surely be put to death" (comp. Genesis 2:17, margin). If words against parents are thus punished, shall not deeds be visited? Die the death (θανάτῳ τελευτάτω)

The Hebrew idiom is, he shall certainly be executed. The Greek is, lit., let him come to his end by death.

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