The Son of man goes as it is written of him: but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)The Son of man goeth as it is written.—The words are remarkable as the first direct reference of the coming passion and death to the Scriptures which prophesied of the Messiah. It was appointed that the Christ should suffer, but that appointment did not make men less free agents, nor diminish the guilt of treachery or injustice. So, in like manner, as if taught by his Master, St. Peter speaks of the guilt of Judas in Acts 1:16-18, and of that of the priests and scribes in Acts 4:27-28.
It had been good for that man . . .—Awful as the words were, they have their bright as well as their dark side. According to the estimate which men commonly form, the words are true of all except those who depart this life in the fear and faith of God. In His applying them to the case of the Traitor in its exceptional enormity, there is suggested the thought that for others, whose guilt was not like his, existence even in the penal suffering which their sins have brought on them may be better than never to have been at all.Matthew 8:20.
As it is written of him - That is, as it is "written" or prophesied of him in the Old Testament. Compare Psalm 41:9 with John 13:18. See also Daniel 9:26-27; Isaiah 53:4-9. Luke Luk 22:22 says, "as it was determined." In the Greek, as it was "marked out by a boundary" - that is, in the divine purpose. It was the previous intention of God to give him up to die for sin, or it could not have been certainly predicted. It is also declared to have been by his "determinate counsel and foreknowledge." See the notes at Acts 2:23.
Woe unto that man ... - The crime is great and awful, and he will be punished accordingly. He states the greatness of his misery or "woe" in the phrase following.
It had been good ... - That is, it would have been better for him if he had not been born; or it would be better now for him if he was to be as "if" he had not been born, or if he was annihilated. This was a proverbial mode of speaking among the Jews in frequent use. In relation to Judas, it proves the following things:
1. that the crime which he was about to commit was exceedingly great;
2. that the misery or punishment due to it would certainly come upon him;
3. that he would certainly deserve that misery, or it would not have been threatened or inflicted; and,
4. that his punishment would be eternal.
If there should be any period when the sufferings of Judas should end, and he be restored and raised to heaven, the blessings of that "happiness without end" would infinitely overbalance all the sufferings he could endure in a limited time, and consequently it would not be true that it would have been better for him not to have been born. Existence, to him, would, on the whole, be an infinite blessing. This passage proves further that, in relation to one wicked man, the sufferings of hell will be eternal. If of one, then it is equally certain and proper that all the wicked will perish forever.
If it be asked how this crime of Judas could be so great, or could be a crime at all, when it was determined beforehand that the Saviour should be betrayed and die in this manner, it may be answered:
1. That the crime was what it was "in itself," apart from any determination of God. It was a violation of all the duties he owed to God and to the Lord Jesus - awful ingratitude, detestable covetousness, and most base treachery. As such it deserved to be punished.
2. The previous purpose of God did not force Judas to do this. In it he acted freely. He did just what his wicked heart prompted him to do.
3. A previous knowledge of a thing, or a previous purpose to permit a thing, does not alter its "nature," or cause it to be a different thing from what it is.
For the exposition, see on Lu 22:7-23.See Poole on "Matthew 26:25". Joshua 23:14, and denotes the voluntariness of it, and which is no ways inconsistent with the divine determinations about it: nor the violence that was offered to him by his enemies.
As it is written; in the book of God's eternal purposes and decrees; for Luke says, "as it was determined" Luke 22:22, or as it was recorded in the books of the Old Testament; in Psalm 22:1, Isaiah 53:1 and Daniel 9:1 for Christ died for the sins of his people, in perfect agreement with these Scriptures, which were written of him:
but woe unto that man by whom the son of man is betrayed; for God's decrees concerning this matter, and the predictions in the Bible founded on them, did not in the least excuse, or extenuate the blackness of his crime; who did what he did, of his own free will, and wicked heart, voluntarily, and to satisfy his own lusts:
it had been good for that man if he had not been born. This is a Rabbinical phrase, frequently, used in one form or another; sometimes thus; as it is said (f) of such that speak false and lying words, and regard not the glory of their Creator, , it would have been better for them they had never come into the world; and so of any other, notorious sinner, it is at other times said (g), , or (h), , "it would have been better for him if he had not been created"; signifying, that it is better to have no being at all, than to be punished with everlasting destruction; and which was the dreadful case of Judas, who fell by his transgression, and went to his own place.
(f) Zohar in Gen. fol. 41. 1. Vid. Misn. Chagiga, c. 2. sect. 1. T. Bab Chagiga, fol. 16. 1.((g) Zohar in Gen. fol, 46. 4. & in Exod. fol. 1. 4. & 36. 3. & 62. 3. & 66. 3. & 105. 4. & 106. 1.((h) T. Hieros. Sabbat, fol. 3. 2. T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 17. 1. & Erubin, fol. 13. 2. Midrash Kobelet, fol. 79. 1.The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Matthew 26:24. Ὑπάγει] μεταβαίνει ἀπὸ τῆς ἐνταῦθα ζωῆς, Euthymius Zigabenus. Comp. οἴχεσθαι, ἀπέρχεσθαι, הָלַךְ. Jesus is conscious that His death will be a going away to the Father (John 7:33; John 8:22).
καλὸν, κ.τ.λ.] well would it have been for him, etc.; for in that case he would not have existed at all, and so would not have been exposed to the severe punishment (of Gehenna) which now awaits him. Comp. Sir 23:14; Job 3:1 ff.; Jeremiah 20:14 ff., and the passages from Rabbinical writers in Wetstein. The expression is a popular one, and not to be urged with logical rigour, which it will not admit of. The fundamental idea embodied in it is: “multo melius est non subsistere quam male subsistere,” Jerome. Observe, further, the tragic emphasis with which ὁ ἄνθρωπος ἐκεῖνος is repeated; but for καλὸν ἦν without ἄν, see Buttmann, Neut. Gr. pp. 188, 195 [E. T. 217, 226]; and on οὐ as a negative, where there is only one idea contained in the negation, consult Kühner, II. 2, p. 748; Buttmann, p. 299 [E. T. 347]. Euthymius Zigabenus aptly observes: οὐ διότι προώριστο, διὰ τοῦτο παρέδωκεν· ἀλλὰ διότι παρέδωκε, διὰ τοῦτο προώριστο, τοῦ θεοῦ προειδότος τὸ πάντως ἀποβησόμενον· ἔμελλε γὰρ ὄντως ἀποβῆναι τοιοῦτος οὐ ἐκ φύσεως, ἀλλʼ ἐκ προαιρέσεως.Matthew 26:24. ὑπάγει, goeth, a euphemism for death. Cf. John 13:33.—καλὸν ἦν without the ἄν, not unusual in conditional sentences of this sort: supposition contrary to fact (vide Burton, M. T., §§ 248–9).24. good for that man if he had not been born] A familiar phrase in the Rabbinical Schools, used here with awful depth of certainty.Matthew 26:24. Ὑπάγει, goeth) Through Passion to Glory.—καθὼς γέγραπται, as it is written) And therefore the woe does not affect the Son of Man. A consolatory consideration.—οὐαὶ δὲ, but woe!) The Divine foreknowledge of the traitor’s sin does not diminish its heinousness.—ἐκείνῳ, to that man); concerning which very man also it has been written.—παραδίδοται, is betrayed) By this word something further is added to ὑπάγει, goeth.—εἰ οὐκ ἐγεννήθη, if he had not been born) sc. if he either had not been conceived, or had died before his birth; see Job 3:2; Job 3:10-11. This phrase does not necessarily imply the interminable eternity of perdition: for it is a proverbial expression; cf. Luke 23:29; Sir 23:19 (Gr. Matthew 26:14). Judas obtains a situation of exclusively pre-eminent misery amongst the souls of the damned. For so long a time he accompanied our Lord, not without sharing the sorrows connected therewith; a little before the joyful Pentecost he died.—Ὁ ἌΝΘΡΩΠΟς ἘΚΕῖΝΟς, “THAT” man) The words, “that man,” might seem a predicate. THAT is the designation of one who is considered already far off.
 In the LXX. and Eng. Vers. it stands as the 14th, in the Vulgate as the 19th verse.—(I. B.)
A degree of misery is here awarded to him greater than that which is set forth in ch. Matthew 18:6.—V. g.Verse 24. - The Son of man goeth (ὑπάγει departeth). It is thus that Christ alludes to his approaching death (John 7:33; John 8:21, 22; John 13:3, etc.), declaring thus the voluntary nature of his sufferings. As it is written of him. Every minute detail of Christ's Passion enunciated by the prophets was fulfilled. "The prescience of God," says Chrysostom, "is not the cause of men's wickedness, nor does it involve any necessity of it; Judas was not a traitor because God foresaw it, but he foresaw it because Judas would be so." Woe unto that man by (through) whom the Son of man is betrayed! παραδίδοται ισ βεινγ βετραψεδ. Judas could hear this and the following sentence, and yet retain his iniquitous purpose! It had been good for that man if he had not been born; literally, it were good for him if that man had not been born. Jesus says this, knowing what the fate of Judas would be in the other world. There is no hope here held out of alleviation or end of suffering, or of ultimate restoration. It is a rayless darkness of despair. Had there been any expectation of relief or of recovery of God's favour, existence would be a blessing even to the worst of sinners; for they would have eternity still before them in which to enjoy their pardon and purification; and in such case it could not be said of them that it were better for them never to have been born. On one side of the mysterious problem connected with Judas and such-like sinners we may again quote St. Chrysostom ('Hom. 81, in Matthew'), "'What, then,' one may say, 'though Judas had not betrayed him, would not another have betrayed him?... Because if Christ must needs be crucified, it must be by the means of some one, and if by some one, surely by such a person as this. But if all had been good, the dispensation in our behalf had been impeded.' Not so. For the All wise knows how he shall bring about our benefits, even had this happened. For his wisdom is rich in contrivance, and incomprehensible. So for this reason, that no one might suppose that Judas had become a minister of the dispensation, he declares the wretchedness of that man. But some one will say again, 'And if it had been good if he had never been born, wherefore did he suffer both this man and all the wicked to come into the world?' When thou oughtest to blame the wicked, for that, having the power not to become such as they are, they have become wicked, thou leavest this, and busiest thyself and art curious about the things of God, although knowing that it is not by necessity that any one is wicked."
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