Matthew 23:34
Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city:
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(34) Behold, I send unto you prophets.—In the parallel passage of Luke 11:49 these words are introduced by the statement, “Therefore said the wisdom of God,” which has led some to see in them a quotation from some prophetic writing then current (see Note there). The words are, in any case, remarkable as including “scribes” no less than “prophets” among the ministers of the New Covenant. (See Note on Matthew 13:52.)

Shall ye scourge in your synagogues.—See Note on Matthew 10:17.

23:34-39 Our Lord declares the miseries the inhabitants of Jerusalem were about to bring upon themselves, but he does not notice the sufferings he was to undergo. A hen gathering her chickens under her wings, is an apt emblem of the Saviour's tender love to those who trust in him, and his faithful care of them. He calls sinners to take refuge under his tender protection, keeps them safe, and nourishes them to eternal life. The present dispersion and unbelief of the Jews, and their future conversion to Christ, were here foretold. Jerusalem and her children had a large share of guilt, and their punishment has been signal. But ere long, deserved vengeance will fall on every church which is Christian in name only. In the mean time the Saviour stands ready to receive all who come to him. There is nothing between sinners and eternal happiness, but their proud and unbelieving unwillingness.I send unto you prophets ... - Jesus doubtless refers here to the apostles, and other teachers of religion. Prophets, wise men, and scribes were the names by which the teachers of religion were known among the Jews, and he therefore used the same terms when speaking of the messengers which he would send. "I send" has the force of the future, I "will" send.

Some of them ye shall kill - As in the case of Stephen Acts 7:59 and James Act 12:1-2.

Crucify - Punish with death on the cross. There are no cases of this mentioned; but few historical records of this age have come down to us. The Jews had not the power of crucifying, but they had power to deliver those whom they condemned to death into the hands of the Romans to do it.

Shall scourge - See the notes at Matthew 10:17. This was done, Acts 22:19-24; 2 Corinthians 11:24-25.

Persecute ... - See the notes at Matthew 5:10. This was fulfilled in the case of nearly all the apostles.

34. Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes—The I here is emphatic: "I am sending," that is, "am about to send." In Lu 11:49 the variation is remarkable: "Therefore also, said the wisdom of God, I will send them," &c. What precisely is meant by "the wisdom of God" here, is somewhat difficult to determine. To us it appears to be simply an announcement of a purpose of the Divine Wisdom, in the high style of ancient prophecy, to send a last set of messengers whom the people would reject, and rejecting, would fill up the cup of their iniquity. But, whereas in Luke it is "I, the Wisdom of God, will send them," in Matthew it is "I, Jesus, am sending them"; language only befitting the one sender of all the prophets, the Lord God of Israel now in the flesh. They are evidently evangelical messengers, but called by the familiar Jewish names of "prophets, wise men, and scribes," whose counterparts were the inspired and gifted servants of the Lord Jesus; for in Luke (Lu 11:49) it is "prophets and apostles."

unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar—As there is no record of any fresh murder answering to this description, probably the allusion is not to any recent murder, but to 2Ch 24:20-22, as the last recorded and most suitable case for illustration. And as Zacharias' last words were, "The Lord require it," so they are here warned that of that generation it should be required.

See Poole on "Matthew 23:36".

Wherefore, behold I send unto you prophets,.... To try them, whether they would show the respect to prophets, they pretended to have for them; by building and beautifying their sepulchres; by exclaiming against their forefathers for shedding their blood; and by declaring, that had they lived in their days, they would not have joined with them in it; and to make it appear, that these were all empty words, and specious pretences; and that they had the same malicious and bloody principles in them; and would be guilty of the same practices, and so fill up the measure of their fathers' sins; and bring upon them the punishment of everlasting burnings hereafter, as well as ruin and destruction on their nation, city, and temple now. Christ here speaks, as, one having power and authority, to qualify and send forth men, under the several characters here mentioned, and of what he should do after his resurrection: for notwithstanding the people of the Jews would crucify him, and use him as they did, in a barbarous manner; yet after all this, he would send his ministers to them, to gather his elect out from among them, to render the rest inexcusable, and to show his longsuffering and patience. The persons designed by "prophets", "wise men", and "Scribes", are his apostles: called "prophets"; because they were divinely inspired to write, and preach in his name; had the gift of foretelling future events, and of explaining with the greatest clearness and exactness, the prophecies of the Old Testament; showing their respect unto, and accomplishment in Christ: "wise men"; because they were made wise unto salvation, and capable of instructing others: they were filled with all spiritual and evangelical wisdom, and preached the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom: and Scribes; because they were well instructed in the kingdom of heaven, and had the true knowledge of the law, and could rightly interpret it, as well as make known the Gospel of the grace of God. Christ chooses to use these names and titles, because the Jews pretended to have great veneration for the ancient prophets, and these he should send, would not be a whit inferior to them, but in many things exceed them; and they had great esteem for their wise men and Scribes, who would be vastly exceeded by these ministers of his, and yet would be used very badly by them:

and some of them ye shall kill; as Stephen, the first "martyr", who was stoned to death by them; and James, the brother of John, whom Herod, to their good liking, killed with the sword; and the other James they threw headlong from off the pinnacle of the temple, and killed him with a fuller's club (r),

And crucify; so Simeon, the son of Cleophas, was crucified at the instigation of the Jews, as Eusebius relates (s),

And some of them ye shall scourge in your synagogues; as John, Peter, and Paul:

and persecute them from city to city; as they did Paul and Barnabas, as the Acts of the Apostles testify,

(r) Euseb. Eccl. Hist. l. 2. c. 23. (s) Ib. l. 3. c. 32.

{10} Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city:

(10) Hypocrites are cruel.

Matthew 23:34. Διὰ τοῦτο] must be of substantially the same import as Ὅπως ἔλθῃ ἐφʼ ὑμᾶς in Matthew 23:35. Therefore, in order that ye may not escape the condemnation of hell (Matthew 23:33), behold, I send to you … and ye will, etc.; καὶ ἐξ αὐτῶν is likewise dependent on διὰ τοῦτο. Awful unveiling of the divine decree. Others have interpreted as follows: διότι μέλλετε πληρῶσαι τὸ μέτρον τῆς κακίας τῶν πατέρων ὑμῶν (Euthymius Zigabenus, Fritzsche), thus arbitrarily disregarding what immediately precedes (Matthew 23:33). Moreover, without any hint whatever in the text of Matthew, ἰδού, ἐγὼ ἀποστέλλω, κ.τ.λ., has sometimes been taken for a quotation from some lost apocryphal prophecy, ἔφη ὁ θεός, or some such expression, being understood (van Hengel, Annotatio, p. 1 ff., and Paulus, Strauss, Ewald, Weizsäcker),—a view borne out, least of all, by Luke 11:49, which passage accounts for the unwarrantable interpretation into which Olshausen has been betrayed.[12] The corresponding passage in Luke has the appearance of belonging to a later date (in answer to Holtzmann and others). Comp. on Luke 11:49.

ἐγώ] is uttered not by God (Ewald, Scholten), but by Jesus, and that under a powerful sense of His Messianic dignity, and with a boldness still more emphatically manifested by the use of ἰδού. Through this ἘΓῺ ἈΠΟΣΤΈΛΛΩ, Κ.Τ.Λ., Jesus gives it to be understood that it is Himself who, in the future also, is still to be the object of hatred and persecution on the part of the Pharisees (comp. Acts 9:5).

προφήτας κ. σοφοὺς κ. γραμμ.] by whom He means His apostles and other teachers (Ephesians 4:11), who, in respect of the Messianic theocracy, would be what the Old Testament prophets were, and the Rabbins (חֲבָמִים) and scribes of a later time ought to have been, in the Jewish theocracy. For the last-mentioned order, comp. Matthew 13:52. Olshausen is of opinion that the Old Testament prophets themselves must also have been intended to be included, and that ἀποστέλλω (which represents the near and certain future as already present) must indicate “God’s pure and eternal present.” The subsequent futures ought to have prevented any such construction being put upon the passage. For ΓΡΑΜΜ., comp. Matthew 13:52.

ΚΑῚ ἘΞ ΑὐΤῶΝ] Οὐ ΠΆΝΤΕς (Euthymius Zigabenus), but more emphatic than if we had had ΤΙΝΆς besides: and from their ranks ye will murder, etc., so that the actions are conceived of absolutely (Winer, p. 552 [E. T. 743]). The same words are solemnly repeated immediately after.

ΚΑῚ ΣΤΑΥΡΏΣΕΤΕ] and among other ways of putting them to death, will crucify them, i.e. through the Romans, for crucifixion was a Roman punishment. As a historical case in point, one might quote (besides that of Peter) the crucifixion of Simeon, a brother of Jesus, recorded by Eusebius, H. E. iii. 32. The meagreness, however, of the history of the apostolic age must be taken into account, though it must not be asserted that in ΣΤΑΥΡΏΣΕΤΕ Jesus was referring to His own case (Grotius, Fritzsche, Olshausen, Lange). He certainly speaks with reference to the third class of divine messengers, the class whom He is now sending (Calov.), but not from the standpoint of His eternal, ideal existence (Olshausen), nor in the name of God (Grotius), and then, again, from the standpoint of His personal manifestation in time (Olshausen), fancies for which there is no foundation either in Luke 11:49 or in the text itself. Jesus does not contemplate His own execution in what is said at Matthew 23:32.

ἘΝ ΤΑῖς ΣΥΝΑΓΩΓ.] Matthew 10:17.

ἈΠῸ ΠΌΛΕΩς ΕἸς ΠΌΛΙΝ] Matthew 10:23. Comp. Xen. Anab. v. 4. 31: εἰς τὴν ἑτέραν ἐκ τῆς ἑτέρας πόλεως.

[12] “Jesus,” he says, “is here speaking as the very impersonation of wisdom; Matthew has omitted the quotation formula, because his object was to represent Jesus as the one from whom the words originally and directly emanate; but the original form of the passage is that in which it is found in Luke.” Strauss, in Hilgenfeld’s Zeitschr. 1863, p. 84 ff., also has recourse to the hypothesis of a lost book, belonging, as he thinks, to a date subsequent to the destruction of Jerusalem, and written by a Christian, and in which the messengers in question are understood to be those whom God has been sending from the very earliest times. In this Strauss, following in the wake of Baur, is influenced by anti-Johannine leanings. According to Ewald, a volume, written shortly after the death of the prophet Zechariah in the fifth century before Christ, but which is now lost, was entitled ἡ σοφία τοῦ θεοῦ. The σταυρώσετε, he thinks, was inserted by Matthew himself. Bleek, in the Stud. u. Krit. 1853, p. 334, and in his commentary, agrees in the main with Ewald.

Matthew 23:34-36. Peroration (Luke 11:49-51).

34. I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes] Marking the continuity of the Christian with the Jewish Church.

ye shall kill and crucify] Kill, directly as Stephen (Acts 7:59), indirectly as James (Acts 12:2), and crucify, by means of the Roman power, as Symeon, second Bishop of Jerusalem (Eus. H. E. iii. 32).

scourge in your synagogues] See note ch. Matthew 4:23.

from city to city] As Paul pursued Christians to Damascus; as he was himself driven from Antioch in Pisidia, from Iconium, from Philippi, and from Thessalonica.

Matthew 23:34. Διὰ τοῦτο, κ.τ.λ., wherefore, etc.) A corollary of the eighth woe.—Ἐγὼ, I) In the parallel passage of St Luke, Luke 11:49, we read, διὰ τοῦτο καὶ ἡ σοφία τοῦ Θεοῦ εἶπεν, Ἀποστελῶ, κ.τ.λ., wherefore also said the wisdom of God, I will send, etc. The first chapter of the second book of Esdras[1011] and this passage have a wonderful resemblance. In 2Es 1:30, we read, “I gathered you together as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings:” in Matthew 23:32, “I sent unto you My servants the prophets, whom ye have taken and slain, and torn their bodies in pieces, whose blood I will require of your hands, saith the Lord:” in Matthew 23:33, “Thus saith the Almighty Lord, your house is desolate.” That book of Esdras is greatly esteemed by many, amongst whom of ourselves are found Schickardus on Tarich,[1012] p. 135, and Hainlin, in his Sol[1013] Temporum; and this quotation in the Gospel gives very great weight to it. J. C. Scaliger says (Exerc. 308), “I possess an admirable and divine compendium of the books of Esdras, composed in the Syrian language; they contain far more valuable sentiments than the harangues of their base calumniator.” That Syrian composition, which Scaliger calls a compendium, may have been a translation of the original Hebrew work, the longer Latin paraphrase of which may have many apocryphal additions. Such appears to be the case of the books of Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus, which at one time show evident signs of a Hebrew origin, and at another have a purely Greek character.—ἀποστέλλω, I send) The present tense. God’s messengers were sent when wickedness was most widely prevalent among His people.—προφήτας, prophets) Who are taught by special revelation, as David. These alone are mentioned with reference to the past; see Matthew 23:30. Now wise men and scribes are added.—σοφοὺς, wise men) who have an habitual sense[1014] of the true and the good, corresponding with the Hebrew חבם, wise, derived from חך, the palate, or sense of taste; such as was Solomon. These are midway between prophets and scribes.—ΓΡΑΜΜΑΤΕῖς, scribes) who edit and illustrate the remains of the prophets and wise men, as Ezra did. In these last the character is for the most part acquired; in wise men, innate; in prophets, inspired.[1015] Therefore the world hates and despises prophets most, wise men much, scribes less, yet not little.—ἀποκτενεῖτε, ye shall kill) as James [the son of Zebedee].—σταυρώσετε, ye shall crucify) as Peter and Andrew, although Peter suffered martyrdom elsewhere.

[1011] In the original, “Liber iv. Esrae, cap.i.”—(I. B.)

[1012] The title of the work in full, as edited by Schickardus, is,” TARICH; h. e. series regum Persiae ab Ardschir—Babekan usque ad Jasdigerdem a chaliphis expulsam, ex fide MS. vol. authentici; vestita comm., etc., authore W. S. 4°. Tubingen, 1632.”—(I. B.)

[1013] A chronological work, the full title of which is, “Sol Temporum seu chronologia mystica et elenchus chronologicus per totam S. Scripturam deductus.” It was published in folio at Tubingen, A. D. 1646. The author is described as “Ecclesiæ Derendingensis Pastor, et Vicinarum Superintendens.”—(I. B.)

[1014] The word used by Bengel is gustum, the original and literal sense of which is, taste.—(I. B.)

[1015] In the original, infusus; literally, infused.—(I. B.)

Verse 34 - Wherefore; διὰ τοῦτο. Because ye are resolved on imitating your forefathers' iniquities, you will also reject the messengers that are sent to you, and shall suffer righteous condemnation. I send (ἐγὼ ἀποστέλλω) unto you. The sending had already begun. In the parallel passage of St. Luke (Luke 11:49) we read, "Therefore also said the wisdom of God, I will send." Christ is the Wisdom of God, and by his own authority gives mission to his messengers. "As the Father hath sent me, even so send I you" (John 20:21), he says to his apostles; and to such he is referring in the words which follow. Prophets. The apostles were of like character, inspiration, and influence as the prophets under the old dispensation, and succeeded in their place as exponents of God's will and heralds of the covenant. Wise men. Men full of the Holy Ghost and heavenly wisdom. Scribes. Not in the then Jewish sense, but instructors in the new law of life, the law of Christ's religion (Matthew 13:52). All the means of teaching and edification employed aforetime were abundantly and more effectually supplied under the gospel. St. Luke has, "prophets and apostles." Kill; as Stephen (Acts 7:59), James (Acts 12:2). Crucify; as Peter (John 21:18, 19; 2 Peter 1:14); Simeon (Eusebius, 'Hist. Eccl.,' 3:32); and probably Andrew. Scourge (see Acts 5:40; Acts 22:19 26:11; 2 Corinthians 11:24, 25). Persecuted (see Acts 13:50; Acts 14:5, 6, 19, 20; Acts 26:11; and compare Christ's prediction, Matthew 10:17, 18). The passage in the Second (Fourth) Book of Esdras 1:32, which is strikingly parallel to our Lord's denunciation, may possibly be a Christian interpolation, "I sent unto you my servants the prophets, whom ye have taken and slain, and torn their bodies in pieces, whose blood I will require of your hands, saith the Lord." Matthew 23:34
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