Matthew 21:22
And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.
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(22) All things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer.—Here again there is the implied condition (as in Matthew 7:7) that what is asked is in harmony with the laws and will of God. If it were not so it would not be asked in faith, and every true prayer involves the submission of what it asks to the divine judgment. The words suggest the thought, of which we have the full expression in John 11:42, that our Lord’s miracles were less frequently wrought by an inherent supernatural “virtue”—though this, also, distinctly appears, e.g., in the history of the woman with the issue of blood (Luke 8:46)—than by power received from the Father, and in answer to His own prayers.

21:18-22 This cursing of the barren fig-tree represents the state of hypocrites in general, and so teaches us that Christ looks for the power of religion in those who profess it, and the savour of it from those that have the show of it. His just expectations from flourishing professors are often disappointed; he comes to many, seeking fruit, and finds leaves only. A false profession commonly withers in this world, and it is the effect of Christ's curse. The fig-tree that had no fruit, soon lost its leaves. This represents the state of the nation and people of the Jews in particular. Our Lord Jesus found among them nothing but leaves. And after they rejected Christ, blindness and hardness grew upon them, till they were undone, and their place and nation rooted up. The Lord was righteous in it. Let us greatly fear the doom denounced on the barren fig-tree.And all things ... - He adds an encouragement for them to pray, assuring them that they should have all things which they asked.

This promise was evidently a special one, given to them in regard to working miracles. To them it was true, but it is manifest that we have no right to apply this promise to ourselves. It was desired especially for the apostles; nor have we a right to turn it from its original meaning. There are other promises in, abundance on which we "may" rely in prayer, with confident assurance that our prayers will be heard. Compare the notes at Matthew 7:7-11.

Mt 21:10-22. Stir about Him in the City—Second Cleansing of the Temple, and Miracles There—Glorious Vindication of the Children's Testimony—The Barren Fig Tree Cursed, with Lessons from It. ( = Mr 11:11-26; Lu 19:45-48).

For the exposition, see on [1334]Lu 19:45-48; and [1335]Mr 11:12-26.

Ver. 17-22. Luke hath nothing of this passage, but Mark relates it with some variation and additions: the variation is only as to time, as to which the evangelists were not curious. Matthew relates this miracle as done in the morning of the second day, as Christ and his disciples returned from Bethany; so doth Mark 11:12: but Matthew speaks as if the disciples discerned it presently withered; Mark mentions it as not discerned to be withered till the next morning, Mark 11:20. Mark saith, Mark 11:13, for the time of figs was not yet; which breeds a difficulty, why our Saviour should curse the fig tree for having no fruit, when the time for its fruit was not come (of which more by and by). Mark saith, Mark 11:21,22, that Peter calling to remembrance his Master’s cursing the fig tree, saith unto him, Master, behold, the fig tree which thou cursedst is withered away. And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God. Then repeats the substance of what Matthew hath in Matthew 21:21,22; to which Mark addeth, Mark 11:25,26, And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive you your trespasses. When our Lord had been in the temple, and driven out the buyers and sellers there, he went out of the city to be at Bethany, either to avoid the noises of the city, (now very full of people, the passover being so nigh), or to get a more private place for prayer. He returns the next morning; and being hungry, and seeing a fig tree in his way, he goes to it, finds it full of leaves, but no fruit on it. He saith unto it, Never fruit grow on thee more. Mark saith, For the time of figs was not yet. Why then doth our Saviour curse this tree? Some think that by time is here meant season (as indeed the Greek word often signifieth); these would have the meaning to be, for it was not a seasonable year for figs. But this rather augments than abates the difficulty, for why should our Saviour curse it for having no figs, when the year was such as was not seasonable? Others therefore think that ou should be ou, then the English would be, Where he was was a time of figs. For this it is said;

1. That the Greek spirits and accents were ordinarily left out in ancient copies, which if they be taken away the words are the same.

2. That this was according to truth, for it was a time of green figs, at least; it being near Jerusalem, and but three or four days before the passover, about which time they reaped their corn, as appears from Leviticus 23:10 Deu 16:9; and it is plain from Song of Solomon 2:13, that in the beginning of their spring their fig trees put forth green figs.

But when I consider that none of the ancient translations are according to this criticism, but as our translations, I conclude that the ancients understood it ou, not ou, and it seemeth too bold to interpret the words contrary to their unanimous sense. Others therefore tell us, that fig trees, or at least some kind of them, (like orange trees), had leaves and fruit upon them always, some green, some half ripe, some full ripe; and that these kept on their leaves all the winter: so that our Saviour seeing leaves, might be led to it with an expectation of some fruit put forth the former year, for the time for the ripening of fruit of that kind that year was not come; and finding none, he cursed it; thereby in a type showing what should be done to barren souls, who have only leaves, no true fruit of righteousness. Or what if we should say, that he did not curse it with any respect to its want of fruit, but only to show his Divine power, working a miracle?

And presently the fig tree withered away: as soon as our Saviour had cursed it, it began to wither. Mark tells us this was the next morning, Mark 11:20, which made Peter say, Master, behold, the fig tree which thou cursedst is withered away. Matthew saith, When the disciples saw it, they marvelled, saying, How soon is the fig tree withered away! Upon this our Saviour telleth Peter and the rest, that if they had faith, and doubted not, they should not only do that which he had done to the fig tree, but if they said to that mountain, Be removed and cast into the sea, it should be done. This is interpreted by Matthew 21:22,

All things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer believing, ye shall receive. We met with the like expression before, Matthew 17:20. Mark hath the same, Mark 11:23. Luke hath it, Luke 17:6. It is an expression which ought not to be strained further than to signify, that there is nothing conducive to the glory of God and our own good, but believers may receive at the hand of God, if they can believe without doubting that what they would have shall come to pass. I see no reason to discourse of a faith of miracles as different from other faith; which only thus differed, that the disciples (the apostles I mean) had a power given them, and a promise made to them, that they should be able to work miraculous operations, which is not given to other Christians serving only the particular occasions of that time, to give credit to the gospel. The general proposition is true, and shall be made good to every believer, That whatsoever good is made the matter of a promise, (such are all good things), shall be given to believing souls, praying for them. But there were of old special promises, not made to the people of God in general, but to particular persons, for particular ends; we cannot expect to do or obtain such things now. Nothing is too big for true faith to obtain, but that faith must have a promise to lean upon, and it must be showed by prayer, as Matthew 21:22. Mark adds, that it must be also attended with charity, a charitable heart, ready to forgive, and actually forgiving, our brethren their trespasses. But it is no more than we met with in Matthew, Matthew 6:14,15, where we opened the sense of those words.

And all things whatsoever,.... Not only miracles, but any other thing which may be for the honour of God, the interest of religion, the spreading of the Gospel, the enlargement of the kingdom, of Christ, their own spiritual good, and the welfare of immortal souls,

ye shall ask in prayer, believing. Munster's Hebrew Gospel reads it, "in prayer, and in faith"; and the Arabic version renders it, "in prayer with faith"; both to the same purpose, and aptly express the sense of the words, which design the prayer of faith; or that prayer which is put up in the strength of faith; and is of great avail with God: for whatever is asked in faith, agreeable to the will of God, which is contained in his covenant, word, and promises, and makes for his glory, and the good of his people, shall be given, be it what it will; though to carnal sense and reason it may seem impracticable and impossible:

ye shall receive; of God, through Christ, freely and fully, and shall have and enjoy them, either they themselves, if asked for themselves, or others, for whom they are asked.

And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.
Matthew 21:22. Αἰτήσητε ἐν τῇ προσευχῇ, ye shall ask in prayer[925]) see Mark 11:24. Miracles are performed by the prayers of the faithful.—λήψεσθε, ye shall receive, etc.) sc. as a gift. Thus, in Mark 11:23-24, ἔσται αὐτῷ, κ.τ.λ., he shall have, etc.

[925] The relation of faith to prayer is the same as that of fire to flame.—V. g.

Verse 22. - All things. The promise is extended beyond the sphere of extraordinary miracles. In prayer; ἐν τῇ προσευχῇ: in the prayer; or, in your prayer. The use of the article may point to the prayer given by our Lord to his disciples, or to some definite form used from the earliest times in public worship (comp. Acts 1:14; Romans 12:12; 1 Corinthians 7:5; Colossians 4:2). Believing, ye shall receive. The condition for the success of prayer is stringent. A man must have no latent doubt in his heart; he must not debate whether the thing desired can be done or not; he must have absolute trust in the power and good will of God; and he must believe that "what he saith cometh to pass" (Mark 11:23). The faith required is the assurance of things hoped for, such as gives substance and being to them while yet out of sight. The words had their special application to the apostles, instructing them that they were not to expect to be able, like their Master, to work the wonders needed for the confirmation of the gospel by their own power. Such effects could be achieved only by prayer and faith. (On the general promise to faithful prayer, see Matthew 7:7-11.) Matthew 21:22
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