And saying, You that destroy the temple, and build it in three days, save yourself. If you be the Son of God, come down from the cross.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Thou that destroyest the temple.—Our Lord had not been formally condemned on this charge, the evidence being insufficient, but it had clearly impressed itself on the minds of the people, and was probably that which most worked upon them to demand His death. The other words, “If thou be the Son of God,” referred to the actual condemnation on the ground of blasphemy (Matthew 26:64-65). We may reverently think of the form of the taunt as having recalled that of the Temptation in the Wilderness. Then, as now, the words “If thou be the Son of God” were as a challenge from the Power of Evil. Now, as then, they were met by the strength of Faith. To accept the challenge would have been to show that He did not trust the Father, just as it would have been not faith, but want of faith, to have cast Himself from the pinnacle of the Temple, and therefore to disown His Sonship in the very act of claiming it.
For the exposition, see on Joh 19:18-30.See Poole on "Matthew 27:44". Mark 15:29, and so Beza says it is read in a certain copy. They refer to the charge of the false witnesses against him, who misrepresenting his words in John 2:19, declared that he gave out that he was able to destroy the temple of Jerusalem, and rebuild it in three days time; wherefore it is added,
and buildest it in three days, save thyself. They reproach him with it, and suggest, that these were vain and empty boasts of his; for if he was able to do any thing of that kind, he need not hang upon the tree, but could easily save himself:
if thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross. The Jews themselves say (a) that the following words were said to Jesus on the cross,
"if thou be the Son of God, why dost thou not deliver thyself out of our hands?
As Satan before them, they put an "if" upon the sonship of Christ: and seeing his followers believed in him as the Son of God, and he had owned himself to be so before the sanhedrim, they require a sign of it by his power, and to do that which they believed no mere man in his situation could do; which shows, that they had no other notion of the Son of God, but that he was a divine person: but his sonship was not to be declared by his coming down from the cross, which he could have easily effected, but by a much greater instance of power, even by his resurrection from the dead; and no other but that sign was to be given to that wicked and perverse generation,And saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Matthew 27:40 Ἔλεγον δὲ τὰ τοιαῦτα κωμῳδοῦντες ὡς ψεύστην, Euthymius Zigabenus. We should not fail to notice the parallelism in both the clauses (in opposition to Fritzsche, who puts a comma merely after σεαυτόν, and supposes that in both instances the imperative is conditioned by εἰ υἱὸς εἶ τοῦ θεοῦ), ὁ καταλύων, κ.τ.λ. being parallel to εἰ υἱὸς εἶ τ. θ., and σῶσον σεαυτόν to κατάβηθι ἀπὸ τοῦ σταυροῦ.
ὁ καταλύων, κ.τ.λ.] is an allusion to Matthew 26:61. For the use of the present participle in a characterizing sense (the destroyer, etc.), comp. Matthew 23:37. The allegation of the witnesses, Matthew 26:61, had come to be a matter of public talk, which is scarcely to be wondered at considering the extraordinary nature of it.
Observe, moreover, that here the emphasis is on υἱός (comp. Matthew 4:3), while in Matthew 27:43 it is on θεοῦ.Matthew 27:40. ὁ καταλύων (cf. ἡ ἀποκτείνουσα, Matthew 23:37), this and the other taunts seem to be echoes of words said to or about Jesus at the trial, of which a report has already gone abroad among the populace. Whether the saying about destroying the temple was otherwise known can only be a matter of conjecture.—εἰ υἱὸς εἶ τ. θ.: Jesus had confessed Himself to be the Son of God at the trial (Matthew 26:64).—κατάβηθι: the God of this world and all men of the world have but one thought as to Sonship; of course it means exceptional privilege. What can a Son of God have to do with a cross?40. Thou that destroyest the temple] This is the mockery of the Jewish populace, who have caught up the charges brought against Jesus before the Sanhedrin. The taunts of the soldiers are named by St Luke alone: “If thou be the King of the Jews, save thyself” (Matthew 23:37).Matthew 27:40. Λέγοντες, κ.τ.λ., saying, etc.) Seven scoffs of His enemies may be counted.—ἐν τρισὶν ἡμέραις, in three days) Yea, it was already now the first of them.—σῶσον, save) They use in mockery the name of Jesus; then that of “The Son of God,” and that of King, Matthew 27:42-43, and His own words, Matthew 27:40.—εἰ Υἱὸς εἶ τοῦ Θεοῦ, if thou art the Son of God) cf. ch. Matthew 4:3.
 The most heinous robber, when visited with capital punishment, is scarcely ever reviled besides; but the Son of GOD, when hanging on the cross, is most bitingly insulted by word of mouth and by writing, on the part of the rulers and the common people—the Jews, as well as also the Gentiles.—Harm., p. 568.Verse 40. - Saying. Some manuscripts (but not the best) insert οὐά after "saying." So the Vulgate (vah!) and other versions. But it seems to he derived from the parallel passage in Mark. What the evangelist gives is only a specimen of the insults hurled at the meek Sufferer, who looked for some to take pity, but there was none, and for comforters, but found none (Psalm 69:20). Thou that destroyest the temple, etc. They shamelessly revive the old accusation (Matthew 26:61; John 2:19), doubtless at the instigation of the Sanhedrists who mingled with the crowd (ver. 41). The saying rankled in the rulers' mind, and we see it playing a part later in the condemnation of Stephen (Acts 6:13, 14). Save thyself. Thou who boastest of thy power to destroy and rebuild this magnificent and solid temple, employ that power in delivering thyself from thy well deserved death. Little they knew that Christ was then fulfilling his own prediction, which would ere long be fully accomplished. As little did they understand that by his words ("I am able to destroy," instead of, "Destroy ye") they were bearing witness to the truth that he was voluntarily laying down his life, and that but for this surrender they could have had no power over him. If thou be the Son of God, etc. Some manuscripts and versions read the passage thus: "Save thyself, if thou be the Son of God, and come down from the cross." But the Received Text is most probably correct. These revilers are doing the devil's work, and are quoting his words (Matthew 4:6), in thus taunting Jesus. They refer to our Lord's own statement before Pilate (Matthew 26:64), thinking it expedient to keep this claim before the people's mind. He might, indeed, have answered the jibe by coming down from the cross; but then, as Bishop Pearson says, in saving himself he would not have saved us.
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