The young man said to him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)All these things have I kept.—There is obviously a tone of impatient surprise in the questioner’s reply. He had come seeking some great thing to satisfy his lofty aspirations after eternal life. He finds himself re-taught the lessons of childhood, sent back, as it were, to a lower form in the school of holiness. He had not learnt that to keep any one of those commandments in its completeness is the task of a life, that to keep one perfectly implies keeping all. In marked contrast with this half-contemptuous treatment of the simpler elements of religion we may recall our Lord’s use, in the Temptation, of the three passages connected, directly or indirectly, with those which were written on the phylacteries that men wore, and which would naturally be taught to children as their first lesson in the Law. (See Notes on Matthew 4:1-11.)
What lack I yet?—Ignorant as the young ruler was of his own spiritual state, his condition was not that of the self-satisfied Pharisee. The question implied a dissatisfaction with himself, a sense of incompleteness, as hungering and thirsting after a higher righteousness. And this accounts for the way in which our Lord dealt with him.
I have endeavored to obey them. Is there anything that I lack - are there any new commandments to be kept? Do you, the Messiah, teach any command besides those which I have learned from the law and from the Jewish teachers, which it is necessary for me to obey in order to be saved?
For the exposition, see on Lu 18:18-30.what lack I yet? are not in Mark or Luke. The young man understood these commandments according to the Pharisees’ interpretation of them, who, as we heard, Matthew 5:1-48, interpreted them only as prohibiting the overt acts, not the inward lusts and motions of the heart, together with the means or occasions leading to such acts. Paul saith, he had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet, Romans 7:7. Men that deceive themselves with false glosses and interpretations may think they keep the commandments of God, and be very confident of a righteousness in themselves; but it is impossible others should be so. What lack I yet? He expected Christ should have set him some new task, and was not aware that he only wanted a better knowledge and understanding of the law to convince him of his mistake.
all these things have I kept from my youth up: as soon as he was capable of learning, his parents taught him these precepts; and ever since he had the use of his reason, and understood the letter, and outward meaning of them, he had been careful to observe them; nor could he charge himself with any open and flagrant transgression of them; not understanding the internal sense, extensive compass, and spirituality of them; and therefore asks,
what lack I yet? In what am I deficient hitherto? in what have I come short of doing these things? what remains at last to be performed? what other precepts are to be obeyed? if there are any other commands, I am ready to observe them, which may be thought necessary to obtain eternal life.The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Matthew 19:20. In what respect do I still come short? what further attainment have I yet to make? Comp. Psalm 39:4 : ἵνα γνῶ τί ὑστερῶ ἐγώ; 1 Corinthians 12:24; 2 Corinthians 11:5; 2 Corinthians 12:11. This reply (Plat. Rep. p. 484 D: μηδʼ ἐν ἄλλῳ μηδενὶ μέρει ἀρετῆς ὑστεροῦντας) serves to show that his moral striving after the Messianic life is confined within the narrow limits of a decent outward behaviour, without his having felt and understood the spirit of the commandments, and especially the boundless nature of the duties implied in the commandment of love, though, at the same time, he has a secret consciousness that there must be some higher moral task for man, and feels impelled towards its fulfilment, only the legal tendencies of his character prevent him from seeing where it lies.Matthew 19:20-22. ὁ νεανίσκος, the youth; whence known? from a special tradition (Meyer); an inference from the expression ἐκ νεότητός μου in Mark 10:20 (Weiss).—ἐφύλαξα (-άμην). Kypke and Elsner take pains to show that the use of this verb (and of τηρεῖν, Matthew 19:17) in the sense of obeying commands is good Greek. More important is it to note the declaration the verb contains: all these I have kept from youth. To be taken as a simple fact, not stated in a self-righteous spirit (Weiss-Meyer), rather sadly as by one conscious that he has not thereby reached the desired goal, real rest in the highest good found. The exemplary life plus the dissatisfaction meant much: that he was not a morally commonplace man, but one with affinities for the noble and the heroic. No wonder Jesus felt interested in him, “loved him” (Mark 10:21), and tried to win him completely. It may be assumed that the man appreciated the supreme importance of the ethical, and was not in sympathy with the tendency of the scribes to subordinate the moral to the ritual, the commands of God to the traditions of the elders.—τί ἔτι ὑστερῶ: the question interesting first of all as revealing a felt want: a good symptom; next as betraying perplexity = I am on the right road, according to your teaching; why then do I not attain the rest of the true godly life? The question, not in Mk., is implied in the tone of the previous statement, whether uttered or not.20. All these things have I kept] Like St Paul he was “touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.” Php 3:6.
from my youth up] These words which seem unsuitable to the “young man” are omitted here, but not in the parallel passages, by the oldest MSS. They might be translated “from childhood.”Verse 20. - All these things have I kept [from my youth up]. The bracketed words are omitted in some good manuscripts, and by most modern editors; but they have high authority, and are found in most versions, and in the parallel passages of Mark and Luke. They accurately express the ruler's view of his conduct. He could say without hesitation or mental reservation that he had scrupulously observed the duties of the Decalogue from the time that he knew right from wrong. Of course, we accuse one who could make such a statement of self-righteousness, of ignorance of the spirit of the Law which he claimed to have obeyed; and if one of us spoke thus presumptuously, we should rightly condemn him; we should say that outward service and legal notions of duty were of little worth, and could not secure eternal life. But our Lord treated the young man differently. He did not blame him as boastful and self-deceiving; he had no reproof for his seemingly presumptuous assertion; he recognized his simplicity, honesty, and sincerity, and St. Mark tells us that "Jesus beholding [looking upon, or into] him, loved him." He read the youth's heart, saw how pure and guileless it was, recognized in him the possibility of great things, and that he was worthy of the saintly life. The ruler felt that there was more to come; hence he asks, What lack I yet? Τί ἔτι ὑστερῶ; In what respect am I still deficient? How do I come short of eternal life? He had still a sense of want. All that he had done had not given him peace of mind. Hence his inquiry. From a Christian the question would savour of ignorance and unspirituality; but this man asked it in all sincerity, desiring earnestly to know what more was required of him, and being ready, as he thought, to undergo any pain, make any, even the most painful effort, if by so doing he might win the prize on which his soul was set.
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