Matthew 22:35
Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying,
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(35) A lawyer.—The precise distinction between the “lawyer” and the other scribes rested, probably, on technicalities that have left little or no trace behind them. The word suggests the thought of a section of the scribes who confined their attention to the Law, while the others included in their studies the writings of the Prophets also. In Luke 7:30; Luke 11:45, they appear as distinct from the Pharisees. The question asked by the “lawyer” here and in Luke 10:25 falls in with this view. So it would seem, in Titus 3:13, that Zenas the “lawyer” was sent for to settle the strivings about the Law that prevailed in Crete.

Tempting him.—There does not appear to have been in this instance any hostile purpose in the mind of the questioner; nor does the word necessarily imply it. (Comp. John 6:6; 2Corinthians 13:5, where it is used in the sense of “trying,” “examining.”) It would seem, indeed, as if our Lord’s refutation of the Sadducees had drawn out a certain measure of sympathy and reverence from those whose minds were not hardened in hypocrisy. They came now to test His teaching on other points. What answer would He give to the much-debated question of the schools, as to which was the great commandment of the Law? Would He fix on circumcision, or the Sabbath, or tithes, or sacrifice, as that which held the place of pre-eminence? The fact that they thus, as it were, examined Him as if they were His judges, showed an utterly imperfect recognition of His claims as a Prophet and as the Christ; but the “lawyer” who appeared as their representative was, at least, honest in his purpose, and “not far from the kingdom of God” (Mark 12:34).

22:34-40 An interpreter of the law asked our Lord a question, to try, not so much his knowledge, as his judgment. The love of God is the first and great commandment, and the sum of all the commands of the first table. Our love of God must be sincere, not in word and tongue only. All our love is too little to bestow upon him, therefore all the powers of the soul must be engaged for him, and carried out toward him. To love our neighbour as ourselves, is the second great commandment. There is a self-love which is corrupt, and the root of the greatest sins, and it must be put off and mortified; but there is a self-love which is the rule of the greatest duty: we must have a due concern for the welfare of our own souls and bodies. And we must love our neighbour as truly and sincerely as we love ourselves; in many cases we must deny ourselves for the good of others. By these two commandments let our hearts be formed as by a mould.A lawyer - This does nor mean one that "practiced" law, as among us, but one learned or skilled in the law of Moses.

Mark calls him "one of the scribes." This means the same thing. The scribes were men of learning - particularly men skilled in the law of Moses. This lawyer had heard Jesus reasoning with the Sadducees, and perceived that he had put them to silence. He was evidently supposed by the Pharisees to be better qualified to hold a debate with him than the Sadducees were, and they had therefore put him forward for that purpose. This man was probably of a candid turn of mind; perhaps willing to know the truth, and not entering very fully into their malicious intentions, but acting as their agent, Mark 12:34.

Tempting him - Trying him. Proposing a question to test his knowledge of the law.

Mt 22:15-40. Entangling Questions about Tribute, the Resurrection, and the Great Commandment, with the Replies. ( = Mr 12:13-34; Lu 20:20-40).

For the exposition, see on [1343]Mr 12:13-34.

See Poole on "Matthew 22:40".

Then one of them, which was a lawyer,.... Or that was "learned", or "skilful in the law", as the Syriac and Persic versions, and Munster's Hebrew Gospel read. The Ethiopic version calls him, "a Scribe of the city", of the city of Jerusalem; but I do not meet with any such particular officer, or any such office peculiar to a single man any where: mention is made of "the Scribes of the people" in Matthew 2:4 and this man was one of them, one that interpreted the law to the people, either in the schools, or in the synagogues, or both; and Mark expressly calls him a "Scribe": and so the Arabic version renders the word here; and from hence it may be concluded that the lawyers and Scribes were the same sort of persons. This man was by sect a Pharisee, and by his office a Scribe; or interpreter of the law, and suitable to his office and character,

asked him a question, tempting him, and saying: he put a difficult and knotty question to him, and thereby making a trial of his knowledge and understanding of the law; and laying a snare for him, to entrap him if he could, and expose him to the people, as a very ignorant man: and delivered it in the following form.

Then {o} one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying,

(o) A scribe, so it says in Mr 12:28. To understand what a scribe is, see Geneva Mt 2:4

Matthew 22:35. Νομικός] the only instance in Matt.; it is met with in none of the other Gospels except that of Luke. It occurs, besides, in Titus 3:13. The word is used to signify one who is conversant with the law, ἐπιστήμων τῶν νόμων (Photius), Plut. Sull. 36; Strabo, xii. p. 539; Diog. L. vi. 54; Epictet. i. 13; Anthol. xi. 382. 19. It is impossible to show that there is any essential difference of meaning between this word and γραμματεύς (see note on Matthew 2:4); comp. on the contrary, Luke 11:52-53.

The term νομικός is more specific (jurisconsultus), and more strictly Greek; γραμματεύς, on the other hand, is more general (literatus), and more Hebrew in its character (סֹפֵר). The latter is also of more frequent occurrence in the Apocr.; while the former is met with only in 4Ma 5:3. In their character of teachers they are designated νομοδιδάσκαλοι, Luke 5:17; Acts 5:37; 1 Timothy 1:7.

πειράζων αὐτόν] different from Mark 12:28 ff., and indicating that the question was dictated by a malicious intention (Augustine, Grotius). The ensnaring character of the question was to be found in the circumstance that, if Jesus had specified any particular ποιότης of a great commandment (see on Matthew 22:36), His reply would have been made use of, in accordance with the casuistical hair-splitting of the schools, for the purpose of assailing or defaming Him on theological grounds. He specifies, however, those two commandments themselves, in which all the others are essentially included, thereby giving His answer indirectly, as though He had said: supreme love to God, and sincerest love of our neighbour, constitute the ποιότης about which thou inquirest. This love must form the principle, spirit, life of all that we do.

Matthew 22:35. εἷς ἐξ αὐτῶν one of the men who met together to consult, after witnessing the discomfiture of the scribes, acting in concert with them, and hoping to do better.—νομικὸς: here only in Mt., several times in Lk. for the scribe class = a man well up in the law.

35. one of them, which was a lawyer] i. e. an interpreter of the written law, as distinguished from the “traditions” or unwritten law.

Matthew 22:35. Εἷς ἐξ αὐτῶν, one of them) This man is less blamed by our Lord; wherefore he seems to have been led on by others.—νομικὸς, a lawyer) How great soever he was, and proud of that abundance of knowledge which he was now about to exhibit.—νομικὸς = γραμματεύς, a scribe, in Luke 11:45; Luke 11:44; Luke 11:53; and νομοδιδάσκαλος, a doctor of the law, in Luke 5:17; Luke 5:21.

Verse 35. - A lawyer; νομικός, called by St. Mark "a scribe" - a term of wider signification, which would include "lawyers." Vulgate, legis doctor, which gives the right sense; for such were teachers and expounders of the Mosaic Law. This man was put forth by the Pharisees as an expert, who would not be so easily discomfited as the Sadducees had been. Tempting him. Trying him (comp. 1 Kings 10:1); putting him to the test, not altogether maliciously, but partly from curiosity, and partly from a desire to hear Christ's opinion on a much disputed point. It is evident, from St. Mark's account, that Christ was pleased with him personally, for he said to him, "Thou art not far from the kingdom of God." Those who put this lawyer forward had, of course, sinister motives, and hoped to make capital from Christ's answer; but the man himself seems to have been straightforward and honest. We have had the terra "tempting" used in a hostile sense (Matthew 16:1; Matthew 19:3), but there is no necessity for so taking it; and it seems to imply here merely the renewal of the attack on Christ. Matthew 22:35
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