Matthew 21:41
They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons.
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(41) They say unto him . . .—The fact that the answer to the question came, not from the speaker, but from the hearers of the parable, is peculiar to St. Matthew. On the assumption that those who gave the answer were the scribes and Pharisees, we may see in it either a real unconsciousness that they were as the men on whom the punishment was to fall (see Note on Matthew 21:31), or, more probably, an affected horror, by which they sought to disguise the conviction that the parable was meant for them. They would not admit, in the presence of the multitude, that they winced at this intimation that their designs were known.

Those wicked men.—Better, those miserable men, the adjective being the same as the preceding adverb. Their answer, like the speech of Caiaphas in John 11:49-51, was an unconscious prophecy, in which were wrapt up at once the destruction of the Holy City, and the transfer of the privileges that had belonged to Israel to the Gentile Church, which was to grow into Catholic Christendom. The Lord of the vineyard would not be robbed of its fruits, and sooner or later would find faithful and true labourers.

21:33-46 This parable plainly sets forth the sin and ruin of the Jewish nation; and what is spoken to convict them, is spoken to caution all that enjoy the privileges of the outward church. As men treat God's people, they would treat Christ himself, if he were with them. How can we, if faithful to his cause, expect a favourable reception from a wicked world, or from ungodly professors of Christianity! And let us ask ourselves, whether we who have the vineyard and all its advantages, render fruits in due season, as a people, as a family, or as separate persons. Our Saviour, in his question, declares that the Lord of the vineyard will come, and when he comes he will surely destroy the wicked. The chief priests and the elders were the builders, and they would not admit his doctrine or laws; they threw him aside as a despised stone. But he who was rejected by the Jews, was embraced by the Gentiles. Christ knows who will bring forth gospel fruits in the use of gospel means. The unbelief of sinners will be their ruin. But God has many ways of restraining the remainders of wrath, as he has of making that which breaks out redound to his praise. May Christ become more and more precious to our souls, as the firm Foundation and Cornerstone of his church. May we be willing to follow him, though despised and hated for his sake.They say ... - They answered according as they knew people would act, and would act justly in doing it.

He would take away their privileges and confer them on others. This was the answer which Jesus wished. The case was so clear that they could not answer otherwise. He wished to show them the justice of taking away their national privileges, and punishing them in the destruction of their city and nation. Had he stated this at first they would not have heard him. He, however, by a parable, led them along to "state themselves" the very truth which he wished to communicate, and they had then nothing to answer. They did not, however, yet see the bearing of what they had admitted.

41. They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men—an emphatic alliteration not easily conveyed in English: "He will badly destroy those bad men," or "miserably destroy those miserable men," is something like it.

and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons—If this answer was given by the Pharisees, to whom our Lord addressed the parable, they thus unwittingly pronounced their own condemnation: as did David to Nathan the prophet (2Sa 12:5-7), and Simon the Pharisee to our Lord (Lu 7:43, &c.). But if it was given, as the two other Evangelists agree in representing it, by our Lord Himself, and the explicitness of the answer would seem to favor that supposition, then we can better explain the exclamation of the Pharisees which followed it, in Luke's report (Lu 20:16)—"And when they heard it, they said, God forbid"—His whole meaning now bursting upon them.

Ver. 40,41. Mark relates the latter verse as Christ’s own words, Mark 12:9; so doth Luke, Luke 20:15,16, adding, that when they heard it, they said, God forbid. It is said, to solve this difficulty,

1. That they say unto him must not be understood of the Pharisees, but some of the hearers; the Pharisees said only, God forbid.

2. Others think the Pharisees and elders did at first say as is here expressed, but our Saviour then telling them they were the men and opening it further to them, they said, God forbid.

It is very possible the Pharisees and elders might first say it, and that our Saviour confirming and opening their words, showing them how they had given judgment against themselves, they said, God forbid; so both they might say these words, and Christ also. This I take to be the most satisfactory answer. By those words also our Saviour declares, that his church should shortly be taken out of the hands of these Pharisees, and elders, and priests, and put into the hands of his apostles and a gospel ministry.

They say unto him,.... Either the common people that were about him; or rather the chief priests, scribes, and elders, to whom he put the question; little thinking then, that they were the persons intended in this parable:

he will miserably destroy those wicked men: in saying which, they own that persons guilty of such crimes, as beating, killing, and stoning, servants sent to them by the proprietor of the vineyard, to receive his due and proper fruit, and at last murdering his son and heir, were very wicked persons, and deserved the severest punishments to be inflicted upon them, and that without mercy; nor could it be thought, but this must and would be unavoidably their case, when the Lord of the vineyard should come: thus tacitly did they condemn themselves as wicked men, and as deserving the worst of deaths, who in a few days after this, were concerned in the death of the Son of God:

and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen; allowing it to be a very just thing, not only to put these men to the most miserable and tormenting death that could be devised, but to take the vineyard out of the hands of their posterity, and let it out to other persons; as it was a righteous thing with God, to remove the church state, Gospel and ordinances from the Jews, and deliver them to the Gentiles:

which shall render him the fruits in their seasons; that is, his due, and that in proper time. The other evangelists relate these words, as spoken by Christ: for the reconciliation of which let it be observed, that they were first spoken by the Jews, as is here signified; and after that were spoken by Christ, confirming what they said, and applying it to them; upon which they said, "God forbid"; that we should ever be guilty of such crimes, incur such punishment, and this should be our case: but in proof of it, that so it would be, our Lord alleges the following words.

They say unto him, He will {t} miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons.

(t) A kind of proverb, showing what punishment the wicked are worthy of.

Matthew 21:41. λέγουσι, they say: who? the men incriminated, though they could not but see through the thin veil of the allegory. In Mk. and Lk. the words appear to be put into Christ’s mouth.—κακοὺς κακῶς ἀπολέσει: a solemn fact classically expressed (“en Graeci sermonis peritiam in Matthaco”—Raphel, Annot.) = He will badly destroy bad men.—οἵτινες, such as; he will give out the vineyard to husbandmen of a different stamp.—τ. κ. ἐν τοῖς καιροῖς αὐτῶν: the fruits in their (the fruits’) seasons, regularly year by year.

41. They say unto him] An interruption from the listening crowd, which marks the intense interest with which these parables were heard. The indignation of the bystanders is aroused as if it were a tale of actual life.

Matthew 21:41. Κακοὺς κακῶς ἀπολέσει αὐτούς, He will miserably destroy those wicked men[941]) An act of retaliation.[942] He will do so miserably with reference to the miserable and wicked husbandmen: cf. in Hebrews 10:29, χείρονοςτιμωρίσς SORER punishment.—ἐκδώσεται, will let out) In the Church gathered from the Gentiles, the ministers and overseers enjoy great liberty.[943] The same verb occurs in Matthew 21:33.—καιροῖς, seasons) sc. different seasons.—αὐτῶν, their, of them) referring to καρποὺς, the fruits, in Matthew 21:34.

[941] In the original the words are, “κακοὺς κακῶςmale malos,” which cannot be rendered in English so as to give the full force of the words: perhaps “ill (adverb) them ill (adjective)” is about the nearest approach that can be made—or, He will wretchedly destroy those wretches.—(I. B.)

[942] Talio—i.e. doing ill to ill doers.—(I. B.)

[943] Such as the Jewish Church did not enjoy, as being but local and elementary.—ED.

Verse 41. - They say unto him. The Pharisees probably made the reply, not at the moment apprehending the sense of the parable. Or the words were spoken by some of the bystanders, and taken up and emphatically repeated by our Lord with an unmistakable application (ver. 43). The conclusion was a necessary consequence, and this will account for Mark and Luke apparently making them a part of Christ's speech. By their answer they blindly condemn themselves, as David did at hearing Nathan's parable (2 Samuel 12:5). He will miserably (kakw = ) destroy those wicked men (κακοὺς, miserable men); or, he will evilly destroy those evil men; Vulgate, Malos male perdet. He will make their punishment equal their crime. The slaughter and mortality at the siege of Jerusalem accomplished this prediction to the letter. Unto other husbandmen; i.e. the Christian ministry, which took the place of the Jewish priests and teachers. As the husbandmen in the parable were rather the rulers and rabbis than the whole nation (which, indeed, only followed their guides), so these others are not the whole Gentile world, but those who sustained the ministerial offices in the Christian Church. Which (οἵτινες); of such kind as, denoting a class of servants. The clause is peculiar to Matthew. The speakers did not clearly apprehend the bearing of this detail of the parable. In their seasons. The times when the various fruits are ripe and ready for harvesting. These would vary in different climates and under differing circumstances; but the good husbandmen would be always ready to render to their Lord the fruits of faith and obedience, at every holy season and in due proportion. This parable, spoken originally of Israel, applies, like all such similitudes, to the Christian Church and to the human soul. How God dealt with individual Churches we see in his words to the seven Churches of Asia (Revelation 1-3.). Ecclesiastical history furnishes similar examples throughout all ages. God gives privileges, and looks for results worthy of these graces. He sends warnings; he raises up apostles, preachers, evangelists; and if a Church is still unfaithful, he takes away his Spirit, and lets it lapse, and gives its inheritance to others, In the other case, the vineyard is the soul of man, which he has to cultivate for his Master's use. God has hedged it round with the law, external and internal, given it the ministry and sacraments and the Scripture, and looks to it to bring forth the fruits of obedience, service, worship. He sends times of visitation, teaching, warning; he speaks to it by secret inspiration; he calls it in loving tones to closer union. If it hearkens to the call, it walks in the way of salvation; if it refuses to hear, it casts away the hope of its calling, and must share the lot of Christ's enemies. Matthew 21:41He will miserably destroy those wicked men (κακοὺς κακῶς ἀπολέσει αὐτούς)

There is a play upon the words which the A. V. misses and the Rev. preserves by rendering "miserably destroy those miserable men." So the Rheims version: "The naughty men will he bring to naught." Tynd., "He will evil destroy those evil persons." The order of the Greek words is also striking: Miserable men, miserably he will destroy them.

Which (οἵτινες)

The compound Greek pronoun marks the character of the new husbandmen more distinctly than the simple which ; husbandmen of such a character that, or belonging to that class of honest men who will give him his due.

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