In that same hour said Jesus to the multitudes, Are you come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and you laid no hold on me.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Are ye come out as against a thief?—Better, as against a robber with swords and clubs. The word is the same as that used in John 18:40, of Harabbas, and points to the brigand chieftain of a lawless band as distinct from the petty thief of towns or villages.
I sat daily with you teaching in the temple.—The statement referred primarily, perhaps, to what had passed in the three days immediately preceding, but it looks beyond this in its wide generality, and is important as an indication, occurring in one of the first three Gospels, of a ministry in Jerusalem, which their narratives pass over. The “sitting” in the Temple implied that our Lord took the position of a teacher more or less recognised as such (comp. Note on Matthew 5:1), not that of one who was addressing the multitude without authority.Matthew 26:55-56. In that same hour, Jesus said to the multitude — And particularly unto the chief priests and elders, &c, Luke 22:52, Are ye come out as against a thief, &c. — Or robber, that would make a desperate resistance, armed in this way with swords and staves, as if you came to seize me at the hazard of your lives? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple — When you had opportunities in abundance to have secured me, if there had been any crime with which you could have charged me: yet then you laid no hold on me — Ye took me not; so Mark. All this was done, &c. — I know the reason of all this better than you yourselves do: you have hitherto been kept under a secret restraint, which is now removed; and this is your hour, in which God has let you loose against me, and the power of darkness is now permitted to rage with peculiar violence, Luke 22:53; for it is under the instigation of Satan and his infernal powers that you now act, with whatever pious names you may affect to consecrate the deed. That the Scriptures might be fulfilled — That is, hereby those predictions of the prophets are fulfilled which were uttered under an infallible prescience that all these things would be done. “This,” says Dr. Doddridge, “was a consideration which, if duly applied, might have prevented his disciples from being offended at his sufferings: and it strongly intimated that he still kept up the claim, which he had formerly made, of being the Messiah; and that what he was now to go through was so far from being at all inconsistent with that claim, that, on the whole, it was absolutely necessary, in order to make it out to full satisfaction.” Then all the disciples forsook him and fled — Immediately, it seems, as soon as they saw him in the hands of his enemies, notwithstanding that they might have followed him with safety, as the priests had no design against them. “Perhaps, however, they were afraid that the action of Peter would be imputed to them all, and might bring their lives into danger. But, whatever they apprehended, their precipitate flight in these circumstances was the basest cowardice and ingratitude, considering not only how lately they had been warned of their danger, and what solemn promises they had made of a courageous adherence to Christ; but also what an agony they had just seen him in; what zeal he had a few moments before showed in their defence, what amazing power he had exerted to terrify his enemies into a compliance with that part of his demand which related to the safety of his friends, John 18:6-8; and especially that his prophecy of their continued usefulness in his church was equivalent to a promise of their preservation, whatever danger they might now meet with.” But thus our Lord’s prediction concerning their being offended and forsaking him, Matthew 26:31, was fulfilled; and by his permitting them to act in this false and cowardly manner, we may learn not to depend too confidently on the friendship and fidelity even of the very best of men.
It adds not a little to the depth of his humiliation that he consented to be "hunted down" thus by wicked people, and to be treated as if he had been the worst of mankind.
For the exposition, see on Joh 18:1-12.See Poole on "Matthew 26:56". Luke 22:52, for though it was in the dead of the night, and the company such, as they would not have chose to have been seen in at another time; yet so intent were they upon this affair, that they could not satisfy themselves without being in it, and seeing the issue of it; and this the Jews themselves confirm in their account; for they say (o), that the elders of Jerusalem took Jesus, and brought him to the city. Now in that same hour, immediately, that very moment, that Christ had made an end of rebuking Peter for his rash action, and reasoning with him upon it, he turned and addressed himself to these men, saying,
are ye come out as against a thief, with swords and staves, for to take me? as an highwayman, or notorious robber, that had done great mischief to the country; and being armed, and having associates, was not easy to be taken: the Syriac renders it, as a cut-throat: and the Persic, as a robber, and a cut-throat; a desperate villain, that would by no means yield, unless overpowered by numbers, by force of arms, by the dint of the sword, by knocks and blows: but how different from this, was the character of Jesus! who never did any injury to any man's person or property, but saved both; was meek, lowly, and humble in his deportment, throughout the whole of his life; never strove with men, or cried, and caused his voice, in any riotous manner, to be heard in the streets; and even when reviled, reviled not again, but took every insult patiently; and was now unarmed, and ready to submit at once; nay, before they could well come up to him, he asked them who they sought; and on mentioning his name, declared he was the person; and signified he was ready to surrender himself, only desired his disciples might have leave to go away: he adds,
I sat daily with you, teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on me. The business he was employed was not thieving and stealing, but teaching; and that wholesome doctrine, which he, as man, had received from his Father, and as the great prophet in Israel taught; and with such power and authority, as the Scribes and Pharisees did not: the place where he taught, was the temple; not a corner, or a private place, but a place of public worship, and of public resort: the time when he taught there, was the daytime, and day by day; for some days past, it had been his custom in the daytime to teach in the temple, and at night to go out, and abide in the Mount of Olives; and his continuance day by day in the temple, or his constant teaching there, is signified by sitting daily there, and teaching; unless it should be thought rather to have regard to the posture in which he taught; see Matthew 5:1. And yet, though this had been his common practice for some days past, and at other times before, yet no man laid hands on him then; which was not wanting to a good will in them, who were very desirous of it, and sought every opportunity to do it, but were prevented; either through fear of the people, or through Christ's making his escape from them; and particularly, by the singular providence and power of God, which restrained them, because his time was not yet come. However, Christ suggests by this, that they had no need to take such extraordinary methods to apprehend him, as to make use of one of his disciples to betray him; to come in the middle of the night to take him, and that in such great numbers, and with swords and staves, when he was every day with them in the temple,In that same hour said Jesus to the multitudes, Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on me.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Matthew 26:55. Ἐν ἐκείνῃ τῇ ὥρᾳ] in that hour, in which that was going on which is recorded between Matthew 26:47 and the present passage, subsequently, however, to the scene with Peter, and while the arrest was taking place. Comp. Matthew 18:1, Matthew 10:19.
τοῖς ὄχλοις] not to the high priests, etc., as Luke 22:52 would have us suppose. What is meant is the crowds of which the ὄχλος πολύς of Matthew 26:47 was composed.Matthew 26:55-56. Jesus complains of the manner of His apprehension.—ἐν ἐκ. τ. ὥρᾳ, connects with ἐκράτησαν αὐτόν in Matthew 26:50. Having said what was necessary to the bellicose disciple, Jesus turns to the party which had come to arrest Him, here called τοῖς ὄχλοις.—ὡς ἐπὶ λῃστὴν, etc.: the words may be taken either as a question or as a statement of fact. In either case Jesus complains that they have arrested Him as if He were a robber or other criminal. A robber as distinct from a thief (vide Trench, Synonyms) is one who uses violence to possess himself of others’ property, and Christ’s complaint is in the first place that they have treated Him as one who meant to offer resistance. But the reference to His past habit in the sequel seems to show that He has another complaint in His mind, viz., that they have regarded Him as one hiding from justice. The allusion is to the invasion of His privacy in the garden, and the implied suggestion that they have put a false construction on His presence there. They think He has been seeking escape from His fate when in fact He has been bracing Himself up for it! To what misconstruction the holiest and noblest actions are liable, and how humiliating to the heroic soul! It was thoroughly characteristic of Jesus that He should feel the humiliation, and that He should at once give expression to the feeling. This against Brandt (p. 6), who thinks this utterance in no respect appropriate to the situation.—καθʼ ἡμέραν, etc.: Jesus asks in effect why they did not apprehend Him while, for several days in succession, He sat in the temple precincts teaching. To this it might be replied that that was easier said than done, in midst of a miscellaneous crowd containing not a few friends of the obnoxious teacher (so Brandt). But what Jesus is concerned to point out is, not the practicability of arrest in the temple, but that His behaviour had been fearless. How could they imagine that a man who spoke His mind so openly could slink away into hiding-places like an evil-doer? Brandt remarks that the complaint is addressed to the wrong persons: to the underlings rather than to the hierarchs. It is addressed to those who actually apprehended Jesus, whoever they were. Who composed that crowd it would not be easy in the dark to know.55. a thief] Rather, a robber; see St John 10:1, whence the two words are distinguished. See note, ch. Matthew 21:13.
According to St Luke these words were addressed to “the chief priests, and captains of the temple, and elders,” where it appears that some members of the Sanhedrin had in their evil zeal joined in the capture. The same Evangelist adds, “this is your hour, and the power of darkness” (Luke 22:53).Matthew 26:55. Τοῖς ὄχλοις, the multitudes) Our Lord calmed their violence, so that, even though now under the influence of the chief men they did not return to sanity, they might do so more easily at a future period.—ὡς ἐτὶ ληστὴν, as against a thief) against whom, in a sudden tumult, all staves are used for arms.—καθʼ ἡμέραν, daily) Especially from the Feast of Tabernacles, to that of the Dedication in the same year.—ἐν τῷ ἰερῷ, in the Temple) where you might easily have laid hold of Me.—οὐκ ἐκρατησετε Με, ye laid not hold on Me) An instance of Metonvmia Consequents; q. d. “You were not able to take Me before;” cf. Luke 22:53.
 You took me not, i.e., rebuking their insincerity, “Ye were afraid of the people to take me openly.” So Olshausen. Beng. seems to make the idea implied this—Ye were not then able to take me, for “your hour and the power of darkness” were not then, but are now. Luke 22:53.—ED.
John, for a considerable time before his being beheaded, was kept in prison. But the world was obliged to permit Christ to walk at large, and discourse unrestrictedly, up to these His last moments.—Harm., p. 532.Verse 55. - The multitudes. St. Luke says that Christ addressed "the chief priests, and captains of the temple, and elders, which were come against him." He submitted to indignities, but he felt them deeply; he allowed himself to be treated as a malefactor, but was not insensible to the shame of being supposed to have been capable of acting as such. A thief; a robber. One at the head of a band of lawless ruffians, who would resist you with arms in their hands - a sicarius, a cutthroat, who lurked in secret places to murder the innocent. I sat daily with you (πρὸς ὑμᾶς, probably an interpolation from Mark). All the past week, at any rate, Christ had taught quietly and openly in the temple. He had none of the habits of the robber; he had not courted secrecy; he had no company of armed men to defend him; why did they not arrest him then? According to St. Luke, Christ adds, "But this is your hour, and the power of darkness."
Better Rev., a robber. See John 10:1, John 10:8; and Luke 23:39-43. It is more than a petty stealer; rather one with associates, who would require an armed band to apprehend him. Hence the propriety of the reference to swords and staves.
I sat (ἐκαθεζόμην)
The imperfect tense, denoting something habitual. I was accustomed to sit.
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