For I was an hungered, and you gave me meat: I was thirsty, and you gave me drink: I was a stranger, and you took me in:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)I was an hungred.—The passage furnishes six out of the list of the seven corporal works of mercy in Christian ethics, the seventh being found in the care and nurture of the fatherless.Matthew 25:35-36. I was a hungered, and ye gave me meat, &c. — All the works of outward mercy here mentioned suppose faith and love, and must needs be accompanied with works of spiritual mercy, such as instructing the ignorant, alarming the careless, encouraging the disconsolate, comforting the distressed, strengthening the weak, confirming the wavering, reclaiming the wicked, edifying the righteous. But works of this kind could not be mentioned by the Judge in the same manner: he could not say, I was ignorant, and you instructed me; I was in error, and you recalled me to the truth; I was in sin, and you brought me to repentance. But how astonishing is it to hear the great Judge declaring, that all the good offices which men have ever performed, supposing they performed them in obedience to his will, and with a single eye to his glory, were done to him! It is as if he had said, “In the whole of your conduct you have imitated the goodness and benevolence of my Father, and therefore I now declare you blessed and beloved of him, and appoint you to inherit this kingdom. Moreover, that you may know how acceptable acts of kindness and charity are to me, I assure you that I reckon every thing of this kind as done to myself. It was I who was a hungered and athirst, and a stranger and naked, and sick and in prison. It was I whom you clothed and lodged, and visited and comforted in prison.” The word επεσκεψασθε, rendered, ye visited, properly signifies to take the oversight and care of any thing that requires diligent inspection and attendance; (compare James 1:27;) and it strongly intimates that such an attendance on the poor in their illness is a very acceptable charity: and this is what many may have an opportunity of doing, who have very little money to spare.John 15:4-6; Ephesians 5:23-32; 1 Corinthians 6:15. This is a union - not physical, but moral; a union of feelings, interests, plans, destiny; or, in other words, he and his people have similar feelings, love the same objects, share the same trials, and inherit the same blessedness, John 14:19; Revelation 3:5, Revelation 3:21; Romans 8:17. Hence, he considers favors shown to his people as shown to himself, and will reward them accordingly, Matthew 10:40, Matthew 10:42. They show attachment to him, and love to his cause. By showing kindness to the poor, the needy, and the sick, they show that they possess his spirit, for he did it when on earth; they evince attachment to him, for he was poor and needy; and they show that they have the proper spirit to outfit them for heaven, 1 John 3:14, 1 John 3:17; James 2:1-5; Mark 9:41.
Was a stranger - The word "stranger" means a foreigner or traveler; in our language, one unknown to us. To receive such to the rites of hospitality was, in Eastern countries, where there were few or no public houses, a great virtue. See Genesis 18:1-8; Hebrews 8:2.
Took me in - Into your house. Received me kindly.
Naked - Poorly clothed. Among the Jews they were called "naked" who were clad in poor raiment, or who had on only the "tunic" or inner garment, without any outer garment. See the Matthew 5:40 note; also Acts 19:16 note; Mark 14:51-52 notes; Job 22:6 note; Isaiah 58:7 note.See Poole on "Matthew 25:40". Matthew 25:40, and the sense is, that when some of the servants of Christ, ministers, or private Christians, were in distress for want of the necessaries of life, these gracious souls supplied them with food; which to do, especially in a time of persecution, showed not only love to Christ, but great faith in him, and that they were not ashamed of him, and their profession of him, nor of his poor ministers and members; for this was done by them, not as the effect of mere humanity to the poor in general, but as an instance of affection to Christ's poor; and was done for his sake, and because they belonged to him, were preachers of his Gospel, and professors of his name; and therefore was considered as if done to himself personally:
I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; not gall and vinegar, as the Jews did, but a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, prophet, and righteous person, and because belonging to Christ: this is taken notice of with acceptance by him; and such shall not lose the reward of grace. The Targumist (g) has a passage which may be compared with this:
"Solomon said, by a spirit of prophecy from before the Lord; the Lord of the world shall say to all the righteous in the presence of everyone, go taste, with joy, thy bread which is returned unto thee, for thy bread which thou hast given to the poor and needy, who were hungry; and drink with a good heart the wine which is laid up for thee in paradise, instead of thy wine, which thou hast mingled for the poor and needy, who were thirsty; for, lo! now are thy works accepted before the Lord.
I was a stranger, and ye took me in, or "gathered me": an Hebraism; see 2 Samuel 11:27, and the Septuagint there. Such servants of Christ as were obliged to quit their habitations through the violence of persecution, and were scattered abroad, or went about preaching the Gospel; such were by these righteous ones taken into their houses, and provided for with food and lodging, and every convenience of life; as they were by Gaius, and others,For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Matthew 25:35 f. Συνηγάγετέ με] ye have taken me along with, introduced me, that is, into your family circle along with the members of your family. This meaning, but not that of Fritzsche: “simul convivio adhibuistis,” is involved in the idea of ξένος. For συνάγω, as used with reference to a single individual who is gathered in along with others, comp. Xen. Cyrop. v. 3. 11; LXX. Deuteronomy 22:2; 2 Samuel 11:27; Jdg 19:18; Sir 13:15. For instances of Rabbinical promises of paradise in return for hospitality, see Schoettgen and Wetstein.
γυμνός] “Qui male vestitum et pannosum vidit, nudum se vidisse dicit,” Seneca, de benef. v. 3; Jam 2:15. Comp. on John 21:7; Acts 19:16.Matthew 25:35. ἐπείνασα, ἐδίψησα, ξένος ἤμην: hungry, thirsty, a stranger. The claims created by these situations are universally recognised though often neglected; to respond to them is a duty of “common humanity”.—συνηγάγετέ με, ye received me (into your house) (cf. Jdg 19:18,—οὐκ ἔστιν ἀνὴρ συνάγων με εἰς οἰκίαν) Meyer, Weiss, and others, with stricter adherence to the literal meaning of the word, render: ye gathered me into the bosom of your family; Fritzsche: ye admitted me to your table (“simul convivio adhibuistis”).35, 36. There is a climax in this enumeration. The first three are recognised duties, the last three are voluntary acts of self-forgetting love. Common humanity would move a man to relieve his bitterest foe when perishing by hunger or by thirst (see Romans 12:20). Oriental custom required at least a bare hospitality. But to clothe the naked implies a liberal and loving spirit, to visit the sick is an act of spontaneous self-sacrifice, to go to the wretched outcasts in prison was perhaps an unheard of act of charity in those days; it was to enter places horrible and foul beyond description; Sallust, speaking of the Tullianum (the state prison at Rome), says “incultu, tenebris, odore fæda atque terribilis ejus facies est.”Matthew 25:35. Ἐδώκατέ, κ.τ.λ., ye have given, etc.) Of all good and bad actions, those will be especially mentioned which have been performed to the saints, which presuppose faith and love towards Jesus Christ and His brethren, and involve confession of His name, which are most frequent, and remarkable, and conspicuous; and then, from the manifest glory of the Lord, the dignity of His brethren, and the character of good and evil actions towards them, will be manifest; cf. ch. Matthew 10:40-41. This discourse exhibits simultaneously the former misery and excellence of the saints, the former ability and wickedness of the ungodly, and the most righteous recompense of both. Of the works of mercy, however, those only which have been done to the body are mentioned, which are both more despised in the world, and will then be a more evident specimen of faith, inasmuch as a man in them expends somewhat of his material resources and trouble (whereas those which concern the spirit are without expense), and will come more sensibly under the observation of the wicked. Nor was it suitable to the Judge to say: “I have erred, I have sinned, and you have recalled me,” etc.—Μοι, to Me) This presupposes faith, for the faithful perform acts of kindness on this ground.—ἐδίψησα, κ.τ.λ., I was thirsty, etc.) Such is the condition of the faithful in this life: hunger, thirst, nakedness, captivity, etc.—συνηγάγετε, ye took (Me) in) The LXX. use the same verb in Jdg 19:15; Jdg 19:18.
 Oh what a vast recompense (Vergeltung)! An eternal kingdom in return for such insignificant acts of kindness (gegen solche Wohltaten)!—B. G. V.
 That is to say, The judge decides by the love, or absence of love, which existed towards Him. He could not speak of spiritual benefits done to Him, inasmuch as He was holy and sinless: He therefore mentions temporal and corporeal benefits.—ED.Verse 35. - For. Jesus here gives the reason which influences him in conferring this great boon on "the sheep" of his flock. He instances certain works of mercy which they performed during their earthly pilgrimage, as examples of the kind of acts which he deems worthy of eternal reward. It is not that he regards no other with favour, but these six works, as they show the temper and virtue of the door, are taken as the type of those which are approved. They are proofs of self-denial, pity, sympathy, charity; they demonstrate that the doer has something of God in him, that according to his lights he possesses and has exercised the supreme grace of love. The Lord confined himself to one detail; he does not disparage other requirements necessary for salvation, as faith, prayer, sacraments, chastity, truth, honesty; but he looks on one particular class of works as the great result of all the aids and provocatives offered by his Spirit, and herein sets forth the principle by which judgment is guided, and which can be applied universally. The Judge asks not what we have felt or thought, but what we have done or left undone in our dealings with others. "It is plain," says Bishop Bull ('Harm. Ap.,' diss. 1:5. 4), "that our works are considered as the very things on account of which (by the merciful covenant of God through Christ) eternal lifo is given us." He quotes Vossius ('De Bon. Op.,' 10): "It is asked whether a reward is promised to works as signs of faith? Now, we conceive they say too much who suppose it promised to works as deserving it, and that they say too little who think it promised to them only as signs of faith. For there are many passages of Scripture where it is shown that our works, in the business of salvation, are regarded as indispensably requisite, or as a primary condition, to which the reward of eternal life is inseparably connected." I was an hungred, equivalent to "very hungry" (Matthew 12:1). Christ enumerates the chief of what are called the corporal works of mercy, omitting burial of the dead (see on ver. 36). We may note here an argument a fortiori: if such simple acts (comp. Matthew 10:42) meet with so great a reward, what shall he the portion of those who are enabled to rise to more perfect obedience and higher degrees of devotion and self-sacrifice? Ye took me in (συνηγάγεσε με) i.e. into your houses, received me with hospitality, or as one of your own family. We have instances of such hospitality in Genesis 18:3; Judges 19:20, 21; and of this use of the verb συνάγειν in 2 Samuel 11:27, Septuagint. Why Christ speaks of himself as receiving these ministrations is explained in ver. 40.
Tynd., I was harbourless and ye lodged me. The preposition and implies along with. Ye took me with you into the household circle.
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