Matthew 21:42
Jesus said to them, Did you never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(42) Did ye never read. . . .?—The quotation is remarkable as being found (Psalm 118:22) in the immediate context of the verse which had supplied the “hosanna” shouts of the multitude on the preceding day. In the primary meaning of the Psalm, the illustration seems to have been drawn from one of the stones, quarried, hewn, and marked, away from the site of the Temple, which the builders, ignorant of the head architect’s plans, had put on one side, as having no place in the building, but which was found afterwards to be that on which the completeness of the structure depended, that on which, as the chief corner-stone, the two walls met and were bonded together. The Psalmist saw in this a parable of the choice of David to be king over Israel; perhaps, also, of the choice of Israel itself out of the nations of the world. Elsewhere, as in Ephesians 2:20, and in the language of later ages, Christ Himself is the chief corner-stone. Here the context gives a somewhat different application, and “the stone which the builders rejected” is found in the future converts from among the Gentiles, the nation bringing forth the fruits which Israel had not brought forth—the “corner-stone” of the great edifice of the Catholic Church of Christ. This meaning was obviously not incompatible with the other. As the mind of the Psalmist included both David and Israel under the same symbolism, so here the Christ identifies Himself, more or less completely, with the Church which is His body. (Comp. Ephesians 1:22-23.)

Matthew 21:42-43. Jesus saith unto them — Luke says, εμβλεψας αυτοις, ειπε, having looked on them, namely, with great compassion and solemnity in his countenance, he said, Did ye never read, or never reflect upon this remarkable passage in the Scriptures, The stone which the builders refused, &c.? — As if he had said, If the vineyard is not to be taken from you and given to others, what is the meaning of these words? Do they not plainly foretel that the Messiah shall be rejected by the Jewish great men, their teachers and rulers, the builders of their church and commonwealth, and that, though they put him to death, he shall become the head of the corner, or the head of the church? Now, what else is this but that he shall be believed on by the Gentiles, and unite them to the Church of God, as a head cornerstone unites the two sides of a building? This is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous, &c. — The rejection of the Messiah by the Jews, his reception among the Gentiles, and their admission into the church, are all very wonderful events, brought to pass by the singular providence of God. Therefore, because God himself has long ago expressly foretold that this judgment will happen to you; and because it is a most righteous and equitable judgment, I tell you plainly, the kingdom of God — Which you have thus vilely and ungratefully contemned and abused, shall be taken from you, and given to a nation, &c. — That is, the gospel of Christ shall be taken from you, and carried to the Gentiles, who will have more regard to the favour shown them, and improve it much better than you have done. It is justly observed by Dr. Campbell, “that this is one of the clearest predictions of the rejection of the Jews and of the call of the Gentiles, which we have in this history.”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.Jesus saith ... - Jesus, having led them to admit the justice of the great "principle" on which God was about to act toward them proceeds to apply it by a text of Scripture, declaring that this very thing which they admitted to be proper in the case of the "husbandmen" had been predicted respecting themselves.

This passage is found in Psalm 118:22-23. It was first applicable to David, but no less to Jesus.

The stone - The figure is taken from building a house. The principal stone for size and beauty is that commonly laid as the cornerstone.

Which the builders rejected - On account of its want of beauty or size it was laid aside, or deemed unfit to be a cornerstone. This represents the Lord Jesus, proposed to the Jews as the foundation or cornerstone on which to build the church, but rejected by them - the builders - on account of his lack of comeliness or beauty; that is, of what they esteemed to be comely or desirable, Isaiah 53:2-3.

The same is become ... - Though rejected by them, yet God chose him, and made him the foundation of the church. Christ is often compared to a stone, a cornerstone, a tried, that is, a sure, firm foundation - all in allusion to the custom of building, Acts 4:11; Romans 9:33; Ephesians 2:20; 1 Peter 2:7.

Lord's doing - The appointment of Jesus of Nazareth to be the foundation of the church is proved by miracle and prophecy to be the work of God.

Marvellous in our eyes - Wonderful in the sight of his people. That he should select his only Son - that he should stoop so low, be despised, rejected, and put to death - that God should raise him up, and build a church on this foundation, embracing the Gentile as well as the Jew, and spreading through all the world, is a subject of wonder and praise to all the redeemed.

42. Jesus saith unto them. Did ye never read in the scriptures—(Ps 118:22, 23).

The stone which the builders rejected, &c.—A bright Messianic prophecy, which reappears in various forms (Isa 28:16, &c.), and was made glorious use of by Peter before the Sanhedrim (Ac 4:11). He recurs to it in his first epistle (1Pe 2:4-6).

See Poole on "Matthew 21:44". Jesus saith unto them, did ye never read the Scriptures,.... The passage which stands in Psalm 118:22.

The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes. Very appropriately is this Scripture cited, and applied to the present case; which expresses the rejection of the Messiah by the Jewish builders, priests, and scribes: the whole Psalm may be understood of the Messiah. R. David Kimchi owns (z), that there is a division among their Rabbins about it: some say that the Psalm is spoken of David, and others, that it is spoken of the days of the Messiah; and these are certainly in the right; and as for this particular passage, it is applied by some of them to the Messiah: so on mentioning Hosea 3:5 they (a) say,

"David was king in this world, and David shall be king in the time to come: wherefore it is said, the stone which the builders refused, &c.

And one of their noted commentators (b) on those words, "though thou be little among the thousands of Judah", has this note:

"It is fit thou shouldest be little among the families of Judah, because of the impurity of Ruth the Moabitess, which is in thee: out of thee shall come forth unto me, Messiah, the son of David; for so he saith, "the stone which the builders refused", &c.

Christ is often in Scripture compared to a stone, and is called the stone of Israel; is said to be a stone of stumbling to some, and a precious tried stone to others: is represented as a stone cut out of the mountain without hands, and on which are seven eyes: and is fitly compared to one, for his usefulness in the spiritual building the church, where he is as both the foundation and corner stone, and for his strength and duration. Christ is the sure, firm, and everlasting foundation, which God has laid in Zion, and the only one of any avail; nor can any other be laid to any purpose; and if he is neglected, and laid aside, in the ministration of the word, the building which men endeavour to rear, or exhort unto, will come to nothing. Whoever build on him are safe, and on nothing else: Christ is the foundation, on which the church, and every believer, are built, and therefore will abide; for the gates of hell cannot prevail against them: the covenant of grace is immoveable, being established in him; its mercies are sure, and its promises yea and amen: the salvation of immortal souls is certain, resting upon him; the faith and hope of the saints fail not, being directed to, and settled on him: the house not made with hands, which is in heaven, is an eternal one; and the city, which has foundations, is a continuing one, because of the concern that Christ has in it; and though he is of such eminent use and importance in the building, yet, as such, the "builders rejected" him: by the builders are meant, the Jewish rulers, both political and ecclesiastical, especially the latter, who pretended to instruct, and build up the people in knowledge and understanding; but in a very bad way did they do it, and upon a very sandy foundation, upon their fleshly privileges, their moral righteousness, and the observance of the ceremonial law, and the traditions of the elders. The Jews used to call their doctors and their scholars "builders" (c): says R. Jochanan,

"the disciples of the wise men are called "builders", because they study in the building of the world all their days, which is the law.

These rejected the Messiah, refused to receive, and acknowledge him as such: they disallowed and disapproved of him, as base and vile, and the most contemptible of mortals, and set him at nought, and had him in the utmost scorn and derision. And so he is rejected by some who bear the characters of builders among Christians: as when his proper deity, and eternal sonship are denied, and he is treated as a mere creature; when his satisfaction and atoning sacrifice are either wholly rejected, or little regarded, lessened, and depreciated, and repentance and good works are put in the room of them; when his imputed righteousness is opposed, and laid aside, and the righteousness of men preferred unto it, and cried up as the matter of justification in the sight of God; when his efficacious grace is represented as unnecessary to regeneration, conversion, and sanctification, and to the performance of good works; and when he is left out of public ministrations, as the way of life and salvation, as the fountain of all grace, and foundation of all happiness, and human power, free will, and moral righteousness are put in his room. But notwithstanding the former and present rejection, and ill treatment of him, he is

become the head of the corner: he is the corner stone in the building which knits and cements it together, angels and men, Jews and Gentiles; Old and New Testament saints; saints above, and saints below, and in all ages and places, all meet, and are united together in this corner stone; which also strengthens and supports the building, and holds it together, and is the ornament and beauty of it: he is the chief corner stone; he is higher than the kings of the earth; he is superior to angels, and the chiefest among ten thousands of his saints; he is exalted above all creatures, angels, and men, who, by the Jewish builders, was despised and rejected, and scarce allowed to be worthy the name of a man:

this is the Lord's doing; this stone is laid in the building by him: the rejection of him is according to his determinate counsel and foreknowledge; and the exaltation of him, above every name, is owing to him, and he is by, and at his own right hand: and

is marvellous in our eyes; in the eyes of all the saints; there being in all this such, a wonderful display of the wisdom, grace, mercy, power, and faithfulness of God,

(z) In Psal. cxviii. 1.((a) Zohar in Exod. fol. 93. 3.((b) Jarchi in Mic. v. 2.((c) T. Bab. Subbut, fol. 114. 1. Vid. En Israel, fol. 64. 3. & Juchasin, fol. 80. 2. & 81. 1.

Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the {u} builders rejected, the same is {x} become the {y} head of the corner: {z} this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?

(u) Master builders, who are chief builders of the house, that is of the Church.

(x) Began to be.

(y) The chiefest stone in the corner is called the head of the corner: which bears up the couplings or joints of the whole building.

(z) That matter (in that the stone which was cast away is made the head) is the Lord's doing which we behold and greatly marvel at.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Matthew 21:42. The enemies of Jesus have answered correctly, but they are not aware that they have thus pronounced their own condemnation, since those who thrust out the Son that was sent to them are no other than themselves. To bring this fully home to them (Matthew 21:45), is the purpose of the concluding words added by our Lord. The quotation is from the Septuagint version of Psalm 118:22 f., which was composed after the captivity, and in which the stone, according to the historical sense of the psalm, represents the people of Israel, who, though rejected by the Gentiles, were chosen by God to form the foundation-stone of His house (the theocracy); while, according to the typical reference of the passage (which the Rabbinical teachers also recognised, see Schoettgen), it denotes the ideal head of the theocracy, viz. the Messiah.

λίθον ὅν] a stone which, attraction of very frequent occurrence.

ἀπεδοκίμ.] as not fit for being used in the building.

οὗτος] this, and no other.

κεφαλὴν γωνίας] רֹאשׁ פִּנָּה, head of the corner, i.e. corner-stone (in Hesychius we find κεφαλίτης in the sense of corner-stone; see Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 700), is the metaphorical designation of Him on whom the stability and development of the theocracy depend, without whom it would fall to pieces, and in this respect He resembles that stone in a building which is indispensably necessary to the support and durability of the whole structure. The antitype here referred to is not the Gentiles (Fritzsche), but, as must be inferred from the connection of our passage with what is said about the Son being thrust out and put to death, from the further statement in Matthew 21:44, and from the common usage throughout the New Testament (Acts 4:11; Ephesians 2:20; 1 Peter 2:7), the Messiah.

ἐγένετο αὕτη] did he become so (viz. the corner-stone, κεφαλὴ γωνίας). Here the feminine is not a Hebraism for the neuter (as little is it so in 1 Samuel 4:7; Psalm 27:4), as Buttmann, Neut. Gr. p. 108 [E. T. 123], would have us suppose, but strictly grammatical, inasmuch as it refers to κεφ. γων.; and accordingly we find that in the Septuagint also זאת is rendered according to its contextual reference. To refer to γωνίας merely (Wetstein) is inadmissible, for this reason, that, in what precedes, κεφαλὴ γων. was the prominent idea.

καὶ ἔστι θαυμαστὴ, κ.τ.λ.] viz. this κεφαλὴ γων. “Our eyes,” as referring to believers.Matthew 21:42. οὐδέποτε ἀνέγνωτε, etc.: another of Christ’s impromptu felicitous quotations; from Psalm 118:22-23 (Sept[119]). This quotation contains, in germ, another parable, in which the ejected and murdered heir of the former parable becomes the rejected stone of the builders of the theocratic edifice; only, however, to become eventually the accepted honoured stone of God. It is an apposite citation, because probably regarded as Messianic by those in whose hearing it was made (it was so regarded by the Rabbis—Schöttgen, ad loc.), and because it intimated to them that by killing Jesus they would not be done with Him.

[119] Septuagint.42. Did ye never read in the scriptures] Psalm 118:22 (Matthew 21:25 of the same psalm is quoted above, Matthew 21:9, where see note); the psalm “was probably composed for the first celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles after the completion of the Second Temple” (Nehemiah 8:13-18). (Canon Perowne.) The original reference was to a stone used in the erection of the second Temple. The “corner stone” is the Jewish nation rejected at first, afterwards restored from captivity. Christ transfers this image to His Church, formed of Jew and Gentile alike (see Meyer), which, though despised at first, was destined to succeed to the spiritual supremacy of Israel.

In Acts 4:11, Ephesians 2:20, 1 Peter 2:6, Christ Himself is the head-corner-stone; but the two applications are not inconsistent, for Christ was the Representative first of the Jewish Nation (ch. Matthew 4:15, Matthew 2:1-11 (3)), then of the Church. Cp. also Isaiah 28:16, “I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation.”

The stone] Rather, A stone. The builders rejected many stones.

the head of the corner] The stone that connects the two walls at the top and supports the roof.Matthew 21:42. Ἐν ταῖς γραφαῖς, in the Scriptures, Writings). There is one volume which deserves the name of “Writing”[944] (Scripture), and “Book.” The rest deserve to be valued only so far as they aid mankind in understanding and obeying this One Book, and are conformed to that Archetype.—λίθονἐν ὀφθαλμοῖς ἡμῶν, the stone—in our eyes) This is an exact quotation from [945] Psalm 118:22-23, as rendered by the LXX. This Psalm was particularly well known. See Gnomon on Matthew 21:9 (comp. ch. Matthew 26:30).—ἀπεδοκίμασαν, rejected) They did not consider Him as even a fit stone or worthy member of the Church at all.—παρὰ Κυρίου ἐγένετο, is the Lord’s doing) This is known to be the case, from the importance of the matter, and the disagreement of the builders.—αὕτη, this [Lat. hæc, Fr. cette]) The feminine for the neuter: a Hebraism. This, sc. thing. In Psalm 102:19[946] the LXX. render זאת (this, fem.) by ΑὝΤΗ, thus preserving the gender of the original: as also in the analogous phrases in Psalm 119:50,[947] 56; Jdg 15:7; Jdg 21:3, where ἘΓΕΝΉΘΗ ΑὝΤΗ (is THIS come to pass) occurs. Cf. 1 Kings 3:18.—καὶ ἔστι, and is) sc. היא, it (fem.), i.e. אבן, the stone, itself is wonderful.—θαυμαστὴ, wonderful[948]) sc. on account of the great glory which it has obtained. The Evangelist uses the feminine, because he was unwilling to depart from the LXX.—ἐν ὀφθαλμοῖς ἡμῶν, in our eyes) sc. of us believers [1 Peter 2:7].

[944] In Greek and Latin the same word signifies both Writings and Scriptures.—(I. B.)

[945] Numbered cxvii. in S. V.—(I. B.)

[946] These are the Hebrew numbers. In S. V. it is ci. 18; in E. V. cii. 18.—(I. B.)

[947] Numbered cxviii. in S. V.—(I. B.)

[948] Bengel in both instances uses the word mirabilis, which implies in this place admiration as well as wonder.—(I. B.)Verse 42. - Did ye never read? It is as though Christ said, "Ye have answered rightly. You profess to know the Scriptures well; do you not, then, apprehend that Holy Writ foretells that concerning Messiah and his enemies which you have just announced?" The imagery is changed, but the subject is the same as in the preceding parable. The vineyard is now a building; the husbandmen are the builders; the Son is the stone. In the Scriptures. The quotation is from Psalm 118:22, 23 - the same psalm which was used on the day of triumph when Christ was saluted with cries of "Hosanna!" and which, as some say, was first sung by Israel at the Feast of Tabernacles on the return from Captivity. The stone. This figure was generally understood to represent Messiah, on whom depended the existence and support of the kingdom of God. Many prophecies containing this metaphor were applied to him; e.g. Isaiah 28:16; Daniel 2:34; Zechariah 3:9; so that the Pharisees could be at no loss to understand the allusion, seeing that Jesus claimed to be that Stone. Rejected; as being not suitable to the building, or useless in its construction. So the husbandmen rejected the Son. The ignorance and contempt of men are overruled by the great Architect. The head of the corner. The cornerstone, which stands at the base and binds together two principal walls (see St. Paul's grand words, Ephesians 2:19-22). We learn that Christ unites Jew and Gentile in one holy house (comp. 1 Peter 2:6, 7). This (αὕτη), being feminine, is thought by some to refer to "head of the corner" (κεφαλὴν, γωνίας); but it is better to take it as used by a Hebrew idiom for the neuter, and to refer generally to what has preceded, viz. the settlement of the cornerstone in its destined position, which is effected by the Lord himself. The ultimate victory of the rejected Son is thus distinctly predicted (comp. Acts 4:11; Romans 9:33).
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