Matthew 23:32
Fill you up then the measure of your fathers.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(32) Fill ye up then . . .—The English fails to give the pathetic abruptness of the original: And yefill ye up the measure of your fathers. The thought implied is that which we find in Genesis 15:16, and of which the history of the world offers but too many illustrations. Each generation, as it passes, adds something to the ever-accumulating mass of evil. At last the penalty falls, as though the long-suffering of God had been waiting till the appointed limit had been reached, and the measure of iniquity was at last full.

Matthew 23:32-36. Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers’ wickedness — Ye may now be as wicked as they: a word of permission, not of command: as if he had said, I contend with you no longer: I leave you to yourselves: you have conquered: now ye may follow the devices of your own hearts. Ye serpents — Our Lord having now given up all hope of reclaiming them, speaks thus to deter others from the like sins. Wherefore — That it may appear you are the true children of those murderers, and have a right to have their iniquities visited on you: behold, I send — Is not this speaking as one having authority? Prophets — Men with supernatural credentials; Wise men — Such as have both natural abilities and experience; and scribes — Men of learning: but all will not avail. That upon you may come all the righteous blood — The consequence of which will be, that upon you will come the punishment of the blood of all the righteous men; shed upon the earth — Temporal punishment must be intended, because in the life to come men shall not be punished for the sins of others to which they were not accessary. From the blood of righteous Abel — The first prophet and preacher of righteousness, unto the blood of Zacharias, son of Barachias — Most commentators think that Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada the priest, mentioned 2 Chronicles 24:20, (where see the note,) is here meant: and that either the words, Song of Solomon of Barachias, are the officious addition of some early transcriber of this gospel, (who might confound this martyr with Zechariah, one of the twelve minor prophets,) or that Jehoiada was also called Barachiah, having, as was not then uncommon, two names, both which, it may be observed, signify nearly the same thing: the latter word signifying one that blesses the Lord, and Jehoiada one that confesses him. Dr. Blayney, however, is confident that Zechariah, the minor prophet, is here intended, and that he was actually murdered, as is here said, though the Scriptures of the Old Testament are silent concerning the barbarous action. See the argument to my notes on Zechariah. Whom ye slew — So he says, because by imitating their fathers’ conduct, they made the murder, committed by them, their own; between the temple — That is, the house properly called the temple; and the altar — Which stood in the outer court. Our Lord seems to refer to this instance, rather than to any other, because he was the last of the prophets that was slain by the Jews for reproving their wickedness; and we may add, (supposing Zechariah the son of Jehoiada to be meant,) because God’s requiring his blood, as well as that of Abel, is particularly taken notice of in Scripture, that holy man’s last words being, The Lord look upon it, and require it, 2 Chronicles 24:22. All these things — The punishment of all these murders; shall come upon this generation — This Jesus foreknew would be the case; and that though every possible method would be tried in order to their conversion, they would make light of all, and by so doing pull down upon themselves such terrible vengeance, as should be a standing monument of the divine displeasure against all the murders committed on the face of the earth from the beginning of time.23:13-33 The scribes and Pharisees were enemies to the gospel of Christ, and therefore to the salvation of the souls of men. It is bad to keep away from Christ ourselves, but worse also to keep others from him. Yet it is no new thing for the show and form of godliness to be made a cloak to the greatest enormities. But dissembled piety will be reckoned double iniquity. They were very busy to turn souls to be of their party. Not for the glory of God and the good of souls, but that they might have the credit and advantage of making converts. Gain being their godliness, by a thousand devices they made religion give way to their worldly interests. They were very strict and precise in smaller matters of the law, but careless and loose in weightier matters. It is not the scrupling a little sin that Christ here reproves; if it be a sin, though but a gnat, it must be strained out; but the doing that, and then swallowing a camel, or, committing a greater sin. While they would seem to be godly, they were neither sober nor righteous. We are really, what we are inwardly. Outward motives may keep the outside clean, while the inside is filthy; but if the heart and spirit be made new, there will be newness of life; here we must begin with ourselves. The righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees was like the ornaments of a grave, or dressing up a dead body, only for show. The deceitfulness of sinners' hearts appears in that they go down the streams of the sins of their own day, while they fancy that they should have opposed the sins of former days. We sometimes think, if we had lived when Christ was upon earth, that we should not have despised and rejected him, as men then did; yet Christ in his Spirit, in his word, in his ministers, is still no better treated. And it is just with God to give those up to their hearts' lusts, who obstinately persist in gratifying them. Christ gives men their true characters.Fill ye up, then ... - This is a prediction of what they were about to do. He would have them act out their true spirit, and show what they were, and evince to all that they had the spirit of their fathers, Compare the notes at John 13:27. This was done be putting him to death, and persecuting the apostles.

The measure - The full amount, so as to make it complete. By your slaying me, fill up what is lacking of the iniquity of your fathers until the measure is full; until the national iniquity is complete; until as much has been committed as God can possibly bear, and then shall come upon you all this blood, and you shall be destroyed, Matthew 23:34-35.

27. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like whited sepulchres—or, whitewashed sepulchres. (Compare Ac 23:3). The process of whitewashing the sepulchres, as Lightfoot says, was performed on a certain day every year, not for ceremonial cleansing, but, as the following words seem rather to imply, to beautify them.

which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness—What a powerful way of conveying the charge, that with all their fair show their hearts were full of corruption! (Compare Ps 5:9; Ro 3:13). But our Lord, stripping off the figure, next holds up their iniquity in naked colors.

Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets—that is, "ye be witnesses that ye have inherited, and voluntarily served yourselves heirs to, the truth-hating, prophet-killing, spirit of your fathers." Out of pretended respect and honor, they repaired and beautified the sepulchres of the prophets, and with whining hypocrisy said, "If we had been in their days, how differently should we have treated these prophets?" While all the time they were witnesses to themselves that they were the children of them that killed the prophets, convicting themselves daily of as exact a resemblance in spirit and character to the very classes over whose deeds they pretended to mourn, as child to parent. In Lu 11:44 our Lord gives another turn to this figure of a grave: "Ye are as graves which appear not, and the men that walk over them are not aware of them." As one might unconsciously walk over a grave concealed from view, and thus contract ceremonial defilement, so the plausible exterior of the Pharisees kept people from perceiving the pollution they contracted from coming in contact with such corrupt characters.

See Poole on "Matthew 23:33". Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. Of their sins; for there were bounds and limits set how far they should proceed, and no further; as yet they had not got to the end of their iniquity: their fathers had gone great lengths in sin, but their iniquity was not yet full, as is said of the Amorites, Genesis 15:16 these their sons were to fill it up. They had shed the blood of many of the prophets; and indeed there were none of them but they had persecuted and abused, in one shape or another: some they entreated shamefully, others they beat: some they stoned, and others they put to death with the sword, or otherwise; and now their children were about to fill the measure brimful, by crucifying the Son of God, which they were at this time meditating and contriving; and by persecuting and slaying his apostles, and so would bring upon them the vengeance of God. The Jews well enough understood these words, which were spoken to them in an ironical way, and expressing what they were about, and what they would hereafter do, and what would be the issue and consequence of it: they have a saying (o), that "the holy blessed God does not take vengeance on a man,

, "until his measure is filled up"; according to Job 20:22.

Which the Chaldee paraphrase renders,

"when his measure is filled up, then shall he take vengeance on him;

and that this is Christ's sense, appears from what follows,

(o) T. Bab. Sota, fol. 9. 1.

{u} Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers.

(u) A proverb used by the Jews, which has this meaning: You go on also, and follow your ancestors, that at length your wickedness may come to its fulness.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Matthew 23:32. Quite in keeping with the deepening intensity of this outburst of indignation is the bitter irony of the imperative πληρώσατε (comp. Matthew 25:45), the mere permissive sense of which (Grotius, Wetstein, Kuinoel) is too feeble.[11] This filling up of the measure (of the sins) of the fathers was brought about by their sons (“haereditario jure,” Calvin), when they put Jesus Himself as well as His messengers to death.

καὶ ὑμεῖς] ye also. The force of καί is to be sought in the fact that ΠΛΗΡΏΣΑΤΕ, Κ.Τ.Λ., is intended to indicate a line of conduct corresponding to and supplementing that of the fathers, and in regard to which the sons also must take care not to come short.

[11] The readings ἐπληρώσατε (D H, min.) and πληρώσετε (B* min. vss.) are nothing but traces of the difficulty felt in regard to the imperative. The former is preferred, though at the same time erroneously interpreted by Wilke, Rhetor. p. 367; the latter, again, is adopted by Ewald, who regards κ. ὑμεῖς πληρώσετε as also dependent on ὅτι.Matthew 23:32. καὶ, and, as ye have called yourselves their sons, so show yourselves to be such indeed (Weiss).—πληρώσατε. The reading πληρώσετε is due to shrinking from the idea conveyed by the imperative. To the same cause is due the permissive (Grotius al.) or ironical (De W.) senses put upon the imperative. Christ means what He says: “Fill up the measure of your fathers; crown their misdeeds by killing the prophet God has sent to you. Do at last what has long been in your hearts. The hour is come.”Matthew 23:32. Καὶ ὑμεῖς πληρώσατε, fill ye up then) The pronoun ὑμεῖς, you, is not only introduced in contrast to your fathers, but also shows that there is an indicative force in the imperative πληρώσατε, fill ye up; q.d. ye will fill up, fill ye up therefore: cf. John 13:27. Fill ye up whenever ye will, be ye no longer hindered; be ye left to yourselves: perform then with the hand that which you cherish in the heart.—τὸ μέτρον, the measure) As there is a measure of life and of suffering, so is there also of sin, when, for example, to three transgressions is added a fourth; see Amos 1:3, etc.Verse 32. - Fill ye up then; καὶ ὑμεῖς πληρώσατε: do ye also (as well as they) fill up. An imperative, expressive of Divine irony, containing virtually a prophecy. Complete your evil work, finish that which your fathers began (comp. John 13:27). The measure. There is a certain limit to iniquity; when this is reached, punishment falls. The metaphor is derived from a full cup, which a single drop more will make overflow. This added drop would be the death of Christ and the persecution of his followers. Then vengeance must follow (comp. Genesis 15:16; 1 Thessalonians 2:16).
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