Matthew 8:11
And I say to you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(11) St. Luke does not give the words that follow, and the omission is significant. Either he did not know of them, and then we must infer the entire independence of his record, or knowing them, he, writing for Gentiles, thought it best to omit words here which our Lord had afterwards repeated, and which he had therefore another opportunity of recording (Luke 13:28). Such verbal reproduction of what had been said before was, it will be remembered, entirely after our Lord’s manner.

Many shall come from the east and west.—It is clear that our Lord saw in the centurion the first-fruits of the wide harvest of the future. Like the words of the Baptist in Matthew 3:9, what He now said contained, by implication, the whole gospel which St. Paul preached to the Gentiles. “East and west,” even without the formal addition of “north and south,” which we find in the parallel passage of Luke 13:29, were used as limits that included all the nations of the earth.

Shall sit down.—Literally, shall recline, as at the table of a feast; that being, as in the phrase of Abraham’s bosom, the received parable of the blessedness of the kingdom.

Matthew 8:11-12. From this exalted pitch of faith, found in a heathen, Jesus took occasion to declare the merciful purpose which God entertained toward all the Gentiles, namely, that he would accept their faith as readily as the faith of the Jews, and admit them, with the founders of the Jewish nation, to the privileges and blessings of his kingdom. Many, says he, shall come from the east and west, &c. — Many, from the farthest parts of the earth, shall embrace the terms, and enjoy the rewards, of the gospel covenant established with Abraham. But the Jews, who have the first title to them, shall be shut out from the feast; from grace here, and glory hereafter. The words, ανακλιθησονται μετα Αβρααμ, &c., properly signify, shall sit down at table with Abraham, &c., a phraseology often used in Scripture, which represents the present privileges and future rewards of the righteous, and especially the latter, under the idea of a sumptuous entertainment. See Luke 14:15; Matthew 22:1; Revelation 19:9. And, though the joys of heaven be all of a spiritual kind, this metaphor needs not be thought strange, since, as Le Clerc observes, “we can neither speak ourselves, nor understand others speaking of our state in the life to come, unless phrases taken from the affairs of this life be made use of.” But the children of the kingdom — So he terms the Jews, even the unbelieving Jews, because they had been born and brought up within the pale of the visible Church, and enjoyed all the advantages which it afforded its members: shall be cast out into outer darkness — Our Lord here alludes to the custom which the ancients had of making their great entertainments, for the most part, in the evening, with candlelight. And the outer darkness, or darkness without the house, signifies, 1st, the state of heathenish darkness, or of ignorance and error, in which those are who are without the pale of the Church of God, and into which, it is here foretold, the Jews should be cast for their rejection of Christ; and, 2d, the state of future misery, into which, as many of them as continued till death in impenitence and unbelief, should finally be cast, with all hypocrites and unbelievers. And Jesus said, Go thy way, &c. — Having spoken, as observed above, he dismissed the centurion with an assurance that his servant was well; and at the same time intimated that the miracle had been wrought in consequence of, and according to, his faith, which, though not the meritorious cause of the cure, had been the means through which the Lord Jesus had been pleased to effect it. And his servant was healed in the self-same hour — Or, rather, in that instant, as εν τη ωρα εκεινη, here evidently means.8:5-13 This centurion was a heathen, a Roman soldier. Though he was a soldier, yet he was a godly man. No man's calling or place will be an excuse for unbelief and sin. See how he states his servant's case. We should concern ourselves for the souls of our children and servants, who are spiritually sick, who feel not spiritual evils, who know not that which is spiritually good; and we should bring them to Christ by faith and prayers. Observe his self-abasement. Humble souls are made more humble by Christ's gracious dealings with them. Observe his great faith. The more diffident we are of ourselves, the stronger will be our confidence in Christ. Herein the centurion owns him to have Divine power, and a full command of all the creatures and powers of nature, as a master over his servants. Such servants we all should be to God; we must go and come, according to the directions of his word and the disposals of his providence. But when the Son of man comes he finds little faith, therefore he finds little fruit. An outward profession may cause us to be called children of the kingdom; but if we rest in that, and have nothing else to show, we shall be cast out. The servant got a cure of his disease, and the master got the approval of his faith. What was said to him, is said to all, Believe, and ye shall receive; only believe. See the power of Christ, and the power of faith. The healing of our souls is at once the effect and evidence of our interest in the blood of Christ.Many shall come from the east ... - Jesus takes occasion from the faith of a Roman centurion to state that this conversion would not be solitary; that many pagans - many from the east and west would be converted to the gospel, and be saved, as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were. The phrase "from the east and from the west," in the Scripture, is used to denote the "whole world," Isaiah 45:6; Isaiah 59:19. The phrase, "shall sit down," in the original, refers to the manner of sitting at meals (see the notes at Matthew 23:6); and the enjoyments of heaven are described under the similitude of a feast or banquet - a very common manner of speaking of it, Matthew 26:29; Luke 14:15; Luke 22:30. It is used here to denote felicity, enjoyment, or honor. To sit with those distinguished men was an honor, and would be expressive of great felicity. Mt 8:5-13. Healing of the Centurion's Servant. ( = Lu 7:1-10).

This incident belongs to a later stage. For the exposition, see on [1234]Lu 7:1-10.

See Poole on "Matthew 8:12". And I say unto you, that many shall come from the east and west,.... On occasion of the faith of the centurion, who was a Gentile, our Lord makes a short digression, concerning the call of the Gentiles; and suggests, that what was seen in that man now, would be fulfilled in great numbers of them in a little time: that many of them from the several parts of the world, from the rising of the sun to the setting of it, from the four points of the heaven, east, west, north, and south, as in Luke 13:29 and from the four corners of the earth, should come and believe in him;

and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven: signifying, that as the Gospel would be preached in a short time to all nations, many among them would believe in him, as Abraham, and the rest of the patriarchs did; and so would partake of the same blessings of grace with them; such as, adoption, justification, pardon of sin, and the like; for "they which be of faith, are blessed with faithful Abraham", Galatians 3:9 now, under the Gospel dispensation, though Gentiles; and shall enjoy with him the same eternal glory and happiness he does, in the other world. Which shows, that the faith of Old and New Testament saints, Jews and Gentiles, is the same; their blessings the same, and so their eternal happiness; they have the same God and Father, the same Mediator and Redeemer, are actuated and influenced by the same Spirit, partake of the same grace, and shall share the same glory. The allusion is to sitting, or rather lying along, which was the posture of the ancients at meals, and is here expressed, at a table, at a meal, or feast: and under the metaphor of a feast or plentiful table to set down to, are represented the blessings of the Gospel, and the joys of heaven; which are not restrained to any particular nation, or set of people; not to the Jews, to the exclusion of the Gentiles. Our Lord here, goes directly contrary to the notions and practices of the Jews, who thought it a crime to sit down at table, and eat with the Gentiles; see Acts 11:3 and yet Gentiles shall sit at table and eat with the principal men, the heads of their nation, in the kingdom of heaven, and they themselves at the same time shut out.

And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall {a} sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.

(a) A metaphor taken of banqueters, for they that sit down together are fellows in the banquet.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Matthew 8:11. Ἀπὸ ἀνατ. καὶ δυσμ.] from the most widely separated quarters of the world

Gentiles. Comp. Isaiah 45:6; Malachi 1:11.

According to Jewish ideas, one of the main elements in the happiness of the Messianic kingdom was the privilege of participating in splendid festive entertainments along with the patriarchs of the nation. Bertholdt, Christol. p. 196. Schoettgen on this passage. Jesus employs the expression in a symbolical sense (Matthew 26:29; Luke 13:28; Luke 14:15; Revelation 19:9; Matthew 22:30; 1 Corinthians 15:50): many Gentiles will become believers, and so have their part in the blessings of the Messianic kingdom in happy fellowship with the patriarchs of the people of God. In sharp contrast to incarnate (Matthew 3:9) Jewish pride, Tanchum (in Schoettgen): “In mundo futuro, (dixit Deus) mensam ingentem vobis sternam, quod gentiles videbunt et pudefient.” Bertholdt, p. 176. Hilgenfeld sees in the whole narrative the milder comprehensive Judaeo-Christianity of the author of the revised Gospel; but Keim again, while upholding the account in all other points, ascribes Matthew 8:11 f. to the hand that framed the later version, although, with Matthew 8:10, preparing the way for them, the words neither interrupt the connection nor clash with the then standpoint of Jesus (Matthew 3:9), seeing that in the Sermon on the Mount (especially Matthew 7:21 f.) He has taken away from the kingdom of God anything like national limitation.Matthew 8:11-12. This logion is given by Luke (Luke 13:28-29) in a different connection, and it may not be in its historical place here. But its import is in thorough harmony with the preceding reflection on the spiritual state of Israel. One who said the one thing was prepared to say the other. At whatever time said it would give offence. It is one of the heavy burdens of the prophet that he cannot be a mere patriot, or say complimentary things about his nation or his Church. ἀνακλιθήσονται: Jesus expresses Himself here and throughout this logion in the language of His time and people. The feast with the patriarchs, the outer darkness, the weeping and the gnashing of teeth (observe the article before σκότος, κλαυθμὸς, βρυγμὸς, implying that all are familiar ideas) are stock phrases. The imagery is Jewish, but the thought is anti-Jewish, universalistic, of perennial truth and value.11. sit down] i. e. recline at a feast. The image of a banquet is often used to represent the joy of the kingdom of heaven. Luke 14:15; Luke 22:29-30; Revelation 19:9.Matthew 8:11. Πολλοὶ, many) who, being not Jews, are similar to the centurion. This is intended to awaken the emulation of the Jews.—ἀπὸ ἁναταλῶν, from the east) see ch. Matthew 2:1,—from the east and from the west; an euphemism for “from the Gentiles.”—ἥξουσι, shall come) A prophecy: they shall come in spirit [and by faith.—V. g.]—μετὰ, together with) see Hebrews 12:23.[366]—ἘΝ Τῇ ΒΑΣΙΛΕΊᾼ, in the kingdom) sc. in this life, and in that which is to come.

[366] With the Fathers in the faith, Hebrews 11:9—V. g.Verses 11, 12. - In Luke (Luke 13:28, 29) not joined to this miracle, but placed after the warning about mere professors (our Matthew 7:23). Also they are there given in the reverse order. Taking the other facts (ver. 5, note) about this miracle into consideration, there can be little doubt but that St. Matthew does not place these verses in their historical connexion. He wishes to emphasize the teaching of the miracle, that Gentiles accept Christ, though Jews reject him. For this reason also he gives the two verses in the reverse order. And. In contrast (δέ) to this comparative absence of belief in Israel. Many. Not in the parallel passage in Luke, but it agrees with the aim of St. Matthew's Gospel. Shall come. Though not emphatic, as it is in the parallel passage in Luke, yet expressive of purpose and decision. From the east and (Revised Version. the) west. Not only residents in Palestine, like this centurion, but from the furthest limits of the earth. The thought was well known; e.g. Malachi 1:11; Isaiah 59:19; also Jeremiah 16:19; Zechariah 8:22. And shall sit down; i.e. at a feast. The image, taken from Isaiah 25:6, is exceedingly common in Jewish Haggadic (i.e. mostly parabolic) teaching (cf. Dr. Taylor's 'Sayings,' etc., 3:25; Schurer, II..2. 174). With Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. An early" Western" reading is, "in the bosom of Abraham," etc. (cf. Luke 16:23). Probably a traditional form current among Jewish Christians. But the children; sons (Revised Version). Those who ought rightfully to enjoy its privileges (Matthew 5:9, note). In Matthew 13:38 those so called answer fully to the appellation. Of the kingdom. "Rather than of the king; since many are in the kingdom, whom notwithstanding the king rejects as traitors; whereas all the children of the king are adopted as co-heirs with his only begotten Son" (Beza, in Ford). This interpretation is attractive, but doubtless false. The Hebrew idiom enables the writer to suggest the idea of the Jews, who are by nature heirs of the Divine kingdom, being notwithstanding excluded (cf Acts 13:46). Shall be cast out (Revised Version, forth); ἐκβκηθήσονται (Matthew 7:4, note). The "Western" reading, ἐξελεύσονται, suggests that they shall go out by their own present act of refusing blessing. Into (Revised Version, the) outer darkness. The form of the expression, which comes only in Matthew (Matthew 22:13; Matthew 25:30), points to a double conception; they shall be cast into the darkness, and cast outside the palace within which the feast is going on. Such is the loss in its personal (εἰς τὸ σκότος) and in its social (τὸ ἐξώτερον) aspect. There shall be (Revised Version, the) weeping and gnashing of teeth. The article, which should strictly be repeated before gnashing, points to a recognized conception. The phrase occurs (except in the parallel passage, Luke 13:28) only in St. Matthew (Matthew 13:42, 50; Matthew 22:13; Matthew 24:51; Matthew 25:30), in each case contrasting the place into which the wicked are sent with that which they might have enjoyed. Observe the description of "hell" - absence of spiritual light; separation from the company of the saved; lamentation; impotent rage. The second couplet corresponds to the first. Shall sit down (ἀνακλιθήσονται)

Lit., recline. The picture is that of a banquet. Jews as well as Romans reclined at table on couches.

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