Matthew 11 Meyer's NT Commentary
Matthew 11
Meyer's NT Commentary

Matthew 11:2. διά] Elz. Griesb. Matthaei, Scholz: δύο, against B C* D P Z Δ א, 33, 124, Syr. utr. Arm. Goth. Codd. of It. From Luke 7:19.

Matthew 11:8. ἱματίοις] wanting in B D Z א, Vulg. Tert. Hil. al. Bracketed by Lachm., deleted by Tisch. Interpolation from Luke.

Matthew 11:9. ἰδεῖν; προφήτην;] Tisch.: προφήτην ἰδεῖν; (with mark of interrogation after ἐξήλθ.) So B Z א*. The Received text, notwithstanding its preponderance of testimony, is a mechanical conformation to Matthew 11:8 (comp. Luke).

Matthew 11:10. Lachm. has bracketed γάρ and ἐγώ. The former only has important testimony against it (B D Z א, Codd. of It. Syrcur Or.), is likewise deleted by Tisch., though it may easily have been omitted in consequence of a comparison with Luke 7:27.

On far too inadequate testimony, Lachm. and Tisch. 7 have καί instead of ὅς.

Matthew 11:15. ἀκούειν] is not found in B D, 32. Here and in Matthew 13:9; Matthew 13:43, it is bracketed by Lachm. and correctly deleted by Tisch. Borrowed from Mark and Luke, where, in all the passages, ἀκούειν cannot be disputed.

Matthew 11:16 f. παιδίοις ἐν ἀγοραῖς καθημένοις καὶ προσφωνοῦσι τοῖς ἑταίροις αὐτῶν καὶ λέγουσιν] Rinck, Lucubr. crit. p. 257 f.; Lachm. and Tisch.: παιδίοις καθημένοις ἐν ἀγορᾷ (Tisch. 7 : ἀγοραῖς, Tisch. 8 : ταῖς ἀγορ.) ἃ προσφωνοῦντα τοῖς ἑταίροις (Tisch.: ἑτέροις) λέγουσιν. On the strength of preponderating testimony this whole reading is to be preferred; it was partially altered in accordance with Luke 7:32. But the balance of the testimony is decidedly in favour of substituting ἑτέροις for ἑταίροις; and the former is to be preferred all the more that, for exegetical reasons, it was much more natural to adopt the latter. Testimony is also decidedly in favour of ἐν ἀγοραῖς, and that without the article (which is found only in B Z א).

ἐθρηνής. ὑμῖν] Lachm. and Tisch. have merely ἐθρηνής., according to B C D Z א, Curss. Verss. and Fathers. Correctly; ὑμῖν is inserted from what precedes.

Tisch. 8 has ἔργων instead of τέκνων, but only after B* א, 124, Codd. in Jerome, and Verss. (also Syr.). An interpretation (. τ. ἔργων τῶν υἱ. .).

Matthew 11:23. ἡ ἕως τοῦ οὐρανοῦ ὑψωθεῖσα] E F G S U V Γ Π**. Curss. Syr. p. Chrys.: ἣ ὥς τοῦ οὐρανοῦ ὑψώθης (approved by Griesb. and Rinck, also Tisch. 7, who, however, has correctly deleted τοῦ). But B C D** א, 1, 22, 42, Copt. Aeth. Pers. Wh. Vulg. Corb. For. Ir. (comp. Colb. Germ.): μὴ ἕως οὐρανοῦ ὑψωθήσγ. The reading of the Received text must be given up, then, on account of the external testimony, and either ὑψώθης or μὴὑψωθήσῃ is to be read. The former is to be preferred. The reading μή, etc., originated in the final syllable of Καφαρναούμ having been twice written by the copyist, which necessarily involved the change of ὑψώθης into ὑψωθήσῃ. The other variations arose out of a misunderstanding as to H. It was taken for the article, hence the reading in the Received text: ὑψωθεῖσα. The interrogative reading, μή, etc. (Lachm. Tisch. 8), is foreign to the sense (you will not be raised to heaven, surely?), a reflection that is here out of place.

καταβιβασθήσῃ] Lachm. and Tisch. 7 : καταβήσῃ, after B D, It. Vulg. Syr. al. Ir. Correctly; the reading of the Received text is from Luke 10:15, where the testimony in favour of καταβήσῃ is somewhat weaker.

And it came to pass, when Jesus had made an end of commanding his twelve disciples, he departed thence to teach and to preach in their cities.
Matthew 11:1. Ἐκεῖθεν] from where the sending out of the apostles took place. It is impossible to define the locality further; at all events Capernaum is not intended, but some open space (Matthew 9:36) on the road, along which Jesus was at that time prosecuting His journey through Galilee (Matthew 9:35). Whilst the Twelve were out on their missionary tour, Jesus continued His labours by Himself; and it was during this interval also that He was visited by the messengers from the Baptist. Where these latter happened to find Him, it is impossible to say. For the return of the Twelve, see note on Matthew 11:25.

αὐτῶν] in the towns of those to whom He came (the Galileans). Comp. Matthew 4:23, Matthew 9:35, Matthew 12:9. Fritzsche refers αὐτῶν to the apostles: in which the apostles had already published the knowledge of the kingdom. Incorrectly, for the μετέβη, κ.τ.λ., follows at once and immediately upon the conclusion of the instructions to the Twelve.

On the following section, see Wieseler in the Göttingen Vierteljahrschr. 1845, p. 197 ff.; Gams, Joh. d. T. im Gefängn. 1853; Gademann, in d. Luth. Zeitschr. 1852, 4; Grote, ibid. 1857, 3, p. 518 ff. Comp. also Erlang. Zeitschr. 1857, p. 167 ff.; Keim, II. p. 355 ff.

Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples,
Matthew 11:2 ff. Comp. Luke 7:18 ff., where the account is introduced somewhat earlier, and where nothing is said about the prison (but see Luke 3:20).

ἀκούσας, κ.τ.λ.] Occasion of the message. See the note after Matthew 11:5.

ἐν τῷ δεσμωτ.] in the fortress of Machaerus. Joseph. Antt. xviii. 5. 2. See on Matthew 14:3. How John could hear anything of Jesus’ works in prison was possible in various ways; most naturally it was through his disciples, with whom he was permitted to have intercourse. Luke 7:18.

τὰ ἔργα] are the deeds, the first element in the ποιεῖν τε καὶ διδάσκειν (Acts 1:1). These were for the most part miracles, though there is no reason to suppose that they were exclusively so. See on John 5:36.

πέμψας] absolutely, Xen. Anab. vii. 1. 2; Hell. iii. 2. 9; Thuc. i. 91. 2; Bornem. Schol. in Luc. p. lxv. The following διὰ τῶν μαθητ. αὐτοῦ belongs to εἶπεν αὐτῷ, not to πέμψας (de Wette), because this latter connection would involve the supposition of a Hebraism, שָׁלַח בְּיַד, 1 Samuel 16:20, 1 Kings 2:25, Exodus 4:13, which is in itself unnecessary.

And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?
Matthew 11:3. Σύ] Placed first for sake of emphasis. Comp. ἕτερον.

ὁ ἐρχόμενος] He who is coming (Hebrews 10:37), i.e. the Messiah, who, because His advent, as being certain and near, was the object of universal expectation, is called, κατʼ ἐξοχήν, the coming one (הַבָּא), perhaps in accordance with Psalm 40:8. Olshausen, Hilgenfeld, Keim, suggest Psalm 118:26; Hengstenberg suggests Malachi 3:1; Hitzig, Daniel 9:26.

ἕτερον] so that thou too wouldst, in that case, be only a forerunner.

προσδοκῶμεν] may be conjunctive (as commonly preferred) or indicative (Vulg. Erasmus, Beza, Calvin, Fritzsche). The idea of deliberation is, for psychological reasons, more appropriate. The we in the question is the expression of the popular expectation.

Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see:
The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.
Matthew 11:5-6. In words that seem an echo of Isaiah 35:5 f., 8, Isaiah 61:1 ff., though, in accordance with existing circumstances, embracing some additional matters, Jesus draws His answer clearly and decidedly from the well-known facts of His ministry, which prove Him to be the ἐρχόμενος foretold in prophecy. Comp. Luke 4:18. The words of the answer form a resumé of cases such as those in Matthew 8:2, Matthew 9:1; Matthew 9:23; Matthew 9:27; Matthew 9:32; therefore they cannot have been intended to be taken in the sense of spiritual redemption, which Jesus might lay claim to as regards His works (in answer to de Wette, Keim, Wittichen); comp. Schweizer in the Stud. u. Krit. 1836, p. 106 ff.; Weiss, bibl. Theol., ed. 2, p. 48; Hofmann, Schriftbew. II. 1, p. 181.

πτωχοὶ εὐαγγελ.] well-known passive construction, as in Hebrews 4:2; Hebrews 4:6; Galatians 2:7; Romans 3:2; Hebrews 11:2; Bernhardy, p. 341 f.

πτωχοί] are the poor, the miserable, the friendless, the oppressed and helpless multitude (comp. on Matthew 5:3), elsewhere compared to sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36), and likened a little further on to a bruised reed and smoking flax (Matthew 12:20). Such people crowded about our Lord, who proclaimed to them the Messianic deliverance. And this deliverance they actually obtained when, as πτωχοὶ τῷ πνεύματι, Matthew 5:3, they surrendered themselves to His word under a deep heartfelt consciousness of their need of help.

σκανδαλ. ἐν ἐμοί] will have been offended in me, so as to have come to entertain false views concerning me, so as to have ceased to believe in me, to have come to distrust me; Matthew 13:57, Matthew 26:31; Matthew 26:33; comp. on Matthew 5:29.


Judging from John’s question, Matthew 11:2, and Jesus’ reply, Matthew 11:6, it is neither unwarrantable nor, as far as can be seen, incompatible with the evangelic narrative, to assume that nothing else is meant than that John was really in doubt as to the personal Messiahship of Jesus and the nature of that Messiahship altogether,—a doubt, however, which, after the honourable testimony of Jesus, Matthew 11:7 ff., cannot be regarded as showing a want of spirituality, nor as inconsistent with the standpoint and character of one whom God had sent as the forerunner, and who had been favoured with a divine revelation, but only as a temporary eclipse of his settled conviction, which, owing to human infirmity, had yielded to the influence of despondency. This condition is so explicable psychologically from the popular nature of the form which he expected the Messianic kingdom to assume on the one hand, as well as from his imprisonment on the other, coupled with the absence of any interposition in his favour on the part of Him who, as Messiah in the Baptist’s sense, should have given things a totally different turn by manifesting Himself in some sudden, overwhelming, and glorious crisis, and so analogous to undoubted examples of the same thing in other holy men (Moses, Elias), that there is no foundation for the view that, because of this question of the Baptist (which Strauss even regards as an expression of the first beginnings of his faith), the evangelic accounts of his earlier relation to Jesus are to be regarded as overdrawn (on the other hand, Wieseler, l.c. p. 203 ff.),—a view which seems to be shared by Weizsäcker, p. 320, and Schenkel. Actual doubt was the cause of the question, and furnished the occasion for informing him about the works of Jesus, which, as characteristic marks of the Messiah, formed again a counterpoise to his doubts, and so awoke an internal conflict in which the desire to call upon Jesus finally to declare Himself was extremely natural; and, accordingly, there is no reason for Strauss’ wonder that, ere this, οὐκ ἀκούσας has not been substituted in Matthew 11:2 as a likely reading instead of ἀκούσας. From all this, and without importing any subjective element into the accounts, it is to be considered as settled that the Baptist’s question proceeded from real doubt as to whether Jesus was the ἐρχόμενος, yea or nay; nor is it for a moment to be limited (Paulus, Olshausen, Neander, Fleck, Kuhn, Ebrard, de Wette, Wieseler, Döllinger, and several others; comp. also Hofmann, Weissag. u. Erf. II. p. 75; Lichtenstein, L. J. p. 256; Hausrath, Zeitgesch. I. p. 338; Gess, Chr. Pers. u. Werk, I. p. 352) to doubts regarding the true nature of the Messiah’s manifestation and works; but still less is the whole narrative to be explained by supposing, in accordance with the time-honoured exegetical tradition, that John sent the message for the benefit of his own disciples, to confirm in them a belief in Jesus as the Messiah (Origen in Cramer’s Catena, Chrysostom, Augustine, Jerome, Hilary, Theophylact, Euth. Zigabenus, Münster, Luther, Calvin, Beza, Melanchthon, Clarius, Zeger, Jansen, Maldonatus, Grotius, Calovius, Bengel), or by seeing in it an expression of impatience, and an indirect challenge to the Messiah to establish His kingdom without delay (Lightfoot, Michaelis, Schuster in Eichhorn’s Bibl. XI. p. 1001 ff.; Leopold, Joh. d. Täuf. 1825, p. 96; Kuinoel, Fritzsche, Hase). The correct view was substantially given by so early a writer as Tertullian, and subsequently by Wetstein, Thies, J. E. Ch. Schmidt, Ammon, Löffler, kl. Schriften, II. p. 150 ff.; Neander, Krabbe, Bleek, Riggenbach, and several others; comp. also Ewald, Gesch. Chr. p. 420, who, however, supposes at the same time that the disciples of John may have been urging him to tell them plainly whether they ought to transfer their allegiance to Jesus or not; similarly Keim, who thinks that John, though hesitating between the alternative: He is the Messiah and He is not so, was nevertheless more disposed in favour of the affirmative view; so also Schmidt in the Jahrb. f. D. Th. 1869, p. 638 ff., who notices the way in which, as he supposes, the Baptist belies his former testimony regarding Christ.

And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.
And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind?
Matthew 11:7. The answer to John’s question has been given; the disciples are withdrawing; but just as they are going away (πορευομένων) Jesus turns to the multitude that was present, and with some emotion proceeds to set forth to them, in the plainest way possible, the sacred character and the whole position of the Baptist, and by this means seeks to anticipate or correct any false opinion that might be formed regarding him.

The mark of interrogation should be placed after θεάσασθαι (in answer to Paulus and Fritzsche, who put it even after ἔρημον); according to the correct reading (see the critical remarks), the animated style of the passage does not change till Matthew 11:9, so that ἀλλὰ τί ἐξήλθετε forms a question by itself.

ἐξήλθετε] at the time that John appeared in the wilderness. Observe that here stands θεάσασθαι, to behold, and immediately after the simple ἰδεῖν, to see. The more earnest expression is in keeping with the first question.

κάλ. σαλ.] figuratively, in allusion to the reed growing on the bank of Jordan, and meaning: a fickle and irresolute man. Others (Beza, Grotius, Wetstein, Gratz, Fritzsche, de Wette) understand it literally: “non credibile est, vos coivisse, ut arundines vento agitatas videretis.” This is not in keeping with the qualifying expression, ὑπὸ ἀνέμου σαλευόμενον. And how meaningless the question would be alongside the parallels in Matthew 11:8-9! Comp. 1 Kings 14:15; Ezekiel 29:6.

But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings' houses.
Matthew 11:8-9. Ἀλλά] no, on the contrary; it is assumed that what has just been asked was not the intention; Hartung, Partikell. II. p. 38. Klotz, ad Devar. p. 13. It seems, from the fact of his sending those messengers, as if John were (1) a man of hesitating, unstable character, Matthew 11:7; or (2) a voluptuary, whose sole concern was how to exchange his condition of hardship for one of luxurious ease, Matthew 11:8. Jesus removes any impression of this sort by appealing to His hearers to consult their own hearts as to what they had expected, and what they had found in John. Certainly they had expected neither a man of fickle mind, nor a voluptuary; but what they had looked for, that they had found in him, namely a prophet (Matthew 21:26), indeed more than a prophet! Accordingly, there is no apparent reason for regarding (Oppenrieder, Zeitschr. f. luth. Theologie, 1856) the clauses containing a statement of the intention as the rhetorical expression of the result (as if the words were τί ἐξελθόντες εἰς τὴν ἔρ. ἐθεάσασθε). But even to find in the negative questions an ironical allusion to the character of the Galileans (Keim), is foreign to the connection, especially as the real motive is given in the third of these questions.

Matthew 11:9. ναί confirms the προφήτην ἰδεῖν which has just been asked (see the critical remarks), and that in accordance with its result: “Certainly, I tell you (you saw a prophet), and more.” περισσότερον is regarded by Erasmus and Fritzsche as masculine (Symmachus, Genesis 49:3 : οὐκ ἔσῃ περισσότερος, excellentior). Nowhere, however, in the New Testament does the simple περισσότερος occur as masculine, and in this instance the interrogative τί tells in favour of its being taken as neuter. Comp. Matthew 12:41 f. Therefore to be rendered: something more (Vulgate: plus) than a prophet,—inasmuch, that is, as he is not only the last and greatest of the prophets, but also because he was sent by God to prepare the way of the Messiah through the preaching and baptism of repentance, Matthew 11:10. In a different sense, viz. as the source, the aim, and the fulfiller of all prophecy, is Christ more than a prophet. Comp. Kleinschmidt, d. typolog. Citate d. vier Evang. p. 45.

But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet.
For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.
Matthew 11:10 is not an interpolation by the evangelist (Weizsäcker); on the contrary, it forms the connecting link between Matthew 11:9; Matthew 11:11. The passage is Malachi 3:1, and is a free rendering of the Hebrew and not from the LXX. In Malachi, Jehovah speaks of His messenger going before Himself; here, He addresses the Messiah; before Him will He send the messenger (not an angel). A free application without any substantial change in the contents of the passage, also without any special design in view; comp. remark on Matthew 3:3.

Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
Matthew 11:11. Ἐν γενν. γυν.] among those born of woman. Intended to denote the category of men according to that nature which is peculiar to the whole race in virtue of its origin (mortality, weakness, sinfulness, and so on). Sir 10:18. Comp. יְלוּד־אִשָּׁה, Job 14:1; Job 15:14; Job 25:4; see also on Galatians 4:4. For ἐγήγερται (by God), comp. Luke 7:16; John 7:52; Acts 13:22 f.

μωίζων] a greater, one more distinguished generally, and that just because he is this promised herald of God who was to precede the Messiah. The words do not warrant our interpreting them to mean: a greater prophet, as has been done by Rosenmüller, Kuinoel, and the older critics.

ὁ δὲ μικρότερος, κ.τ.λ.] he, however, who is less in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. It is to be observed, (1) that neither here nor elsewhere does the comparative stand for the superlative; (2) that, according to the context, the reference of the comparative (see μείζων Ἰωάννου, and afterwards μείζων αὐτοῦ) need not be looked for elsewhere but in Ἰωάννου τοῦ βαπτιστοῦ;[442] (3) that, since ὁ μικρότερος cannot refer to Jesus, it is (Matthew 18:1; Matthew 18:4) necessarily limited and defined by ἐν τῇ βασιλείᾳ τῶν οὐρανῶν, with which it has been connected by Isidore, Cyril, Theodoret, Heracleon (see Cramer, Cat. p. 85). Hence it is to be explained thus: But he who stands lower in the kingdom of the Messiah, stands (according to the divine standard) higher than he. Not as if John would be excluded (as against this, see Matthew 10:41) from the kingdom of Messiah that was about to be established, but the standpoint of those who share in the kingdom is compared with the high position which, as still belonging to the ancient theocracy, the Baptist occupies in the αἰὼν οὗτος. There he is the greatest of all; yet he who is lower in the approaching kingdom of the Messiah, and can by no means compare himself with the eminent personage in question, is, nevertheless, greater than he. Thus the βασίλεια τῶν οὐρανῶν, raised above the Old Testament order of things, simply appears as the state of perfection towards which the theocracy, ending with John, its foremost representative, is only the first step. Others (Chrysostom, Hilary, Theophylact, Euth. Zigabenus, Erasmus, Luther, Melanchthon, Osiander, Jansen, Corn. a Lapide, Calovius, Fritzsche, Fleck, de regno div. p. 83) interpret: he who, as compared with him, retires into the shade (Jesus, μικρότερος κατὰ τὴν ἡλικίαν καὶ κατὰ τὴν πολλῶν δόξαν, Chrysostom) will, as Messiah, outshine him in the kingdom of heaven. These expositors have rightly understood the comparative μικρότερος as comparing some one with the Baptist; but how extremely improbable that Jesus, conscious as He was of a Messiahship that had been divinely confirmed at His baptism, and with the multitudes flocking around Him, would have spoken of Himself as μικρότερος than John the prisoner! And is it not utterly foreign to the context to suppose that He would here have compared Himself with the Baptist? Finally, were the ἐν τῇ βασιλείᾳ τῶν οὐρανῶν, again (referred to what follows), only an awkward toning down of the sharp character of the statement, it would have been far more sensible (since Jesus would mean Himself as the Messiah, whose greatness in the Messianic kingdom is a matter of course) if He had merely said with regard to Himself: ὁ δὲ μικρότερος μείζων αὐτοῦ ἐστιν.

[442] Therefore not: less than the others who participate in the kingdom, as it has been commonly understood of late (Winer, Buttmann, Bleek, Weizsäcker, Keim), according to which view the superlative sense is developed, as in Matthew 18:1; Luke 22:24. So Bengel also: “minimus in regno coelorum est minimus civium regni.” Keim sarcastically observes that, according to the view I have given above, John “would still occupy a subordinate place even in heaven,” and I confess that I am at a loss to comprehend how one can understand ver. 11 in such a way as to exclude (so also Schenkel) the Baptist from the kingdom of heaven, in which, however, the patriarchs and prophets find a place. Where is the Baptist’s place to be? Outside the kingdom is τὸ σκότος τὸ ἐξώτερον, Matthew 8:12. And outside the church, if this be understood (though erroneously) as what is meant by the kingdom, is the κόσμος of unbelievers. This also in answer to Weizsäcker, p. 411 f.; Weissenbach, p. 31 f.; Weiss.

And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.
Matthew 11:12. After the remark in passing that ὁ δὲ μικρότερος, etc., Jesus now continues His testimony regarding John, and, in order to prove what He had just said of him in Matthew 11:10-11, He calls attention to the powerful movement in favour of the Messiah’s kingdom which had taken place since the commencement of the Baptist’s ministry.

ἀπὸ τῶν ἡμερ. Ἰωάνν.] This is not the language of one belonging to a later period, but only such as Jesus could have used at this juncture; for the days when John laboured and flourished were gone by! This in answer to Gfrörer, heil. Sage, II. p. 92, and Hilgenfeld.

βιάζεται] Hesychius: βιαίως κρατεῖταιit is taken possession of by force, is conquered (not magna vi praedicatur, according to the idea imported into the words by Loesner and Fritzsche); Xen. H. G. v. 2. 15 : πόλειςτὰς βεβιασμένας; Thuc. iv. 10. 5 : βιάζοιτο, it would be forced; Dem. 84. 24; Zosimus, v. 29; 2Ma 14:41; Elwert, Quaestion. ad philol. sacr. N. T., 1860, p. 19, who, however, would take the present indicative as meaning vult expugnari, which is not required by the context. In this way is described that eager, irresistible striving and struggling after the approaching Messianic kingdom (Chrysostom: πάντες οἱ μετὰ σπουδῆς προσιόντες) which has prevailed since the Baptist began to preach; it is as though it were being taken by storm. Comp. the neuter usage in Luke 16:16 : πᾶς εἰς αὐτὴν βιάζεται; and further, Xen. Cyr. iii. 3. 69: βιάσαιντο εἴσω; likewise Thuc. i. 63, vii. 69; Ael. V. H. xiii. 32; Herodian, vii. 10. 13; Polyb. i. 74. 5, ii. 67. 2, iv. 71. 5. If others have adopted the idea of a hostile violence with which the Messianic kingdom is persecuted (Lightfoot, Schneckenburger, Beitr. p. 49), or violently (Hilgenfeld) crushed and arrested (by the Pharisees and scribes), their view is partly an anachronism, and partly forbidden by the connection with Matthew 11:13 and with what goes before. Finally, to take the verb in a middle sense, and as describing the breaking in of the kingdom which makes its way in spite of all resistance (Melanchthon, Bengel, Baur, Zyro in the Stud. u. Krit. 1860, p. 401), is certainly not contrary to usage (Dem. 779. 2; Lucian, Herm. 70), but inconsistent with the context in which βιασταί follows.

καὶ βιασταὶ ἁρπάζουσιν αὐτήν] and those who use violent efforts drag it to themselves. The anarthrous βιασταί is not intended to be emphatic; such is now the character of the times, that those of whom the βιάζεται holds true achieve a speedy success, in that, while they press forward to join the ranks of my followers, they clutch at the approaching kingdom as though they were seizing spoils, and make it their own. So eager and energetic (no longer calm and expectant) is the interest in regard to the kingdom. The βιασταί are, accordingly, believers struggling hard for its possession. Jesus Himself (this in answer to Zyro) cannot be included among those who are here in view. Those who interpret βιάζεται in a hostile sense, render ἁρπάζουσιν: they snatch it away from men (according to Schneckenburger, they bar the way to it), in allusion to the conduct of the scribes and Pharisees. For βιαστής, comp. Pind. Ol. ix. 114; Pyth. i. 18. 82, iv. 420, vi. 28; Nem. ix. 122; Duncan, Lex., ed. Rost, p. 209. In Pindar also it is always used in a good sense. For ἁρπάζ., comp. Xen. Anab. iv. 6. 11, vi. 5. 18; Herodian, ii. 6. 10, ii. 3. 23.

For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.
Matthew 11:13-14 are by way of showing how it happens that, since the commencement of the Baptist’s ministry, the Messiah’s kingdom has been the object toward which such a violent movement has been directed. All the prophets, and even the law, have prophesied up till John’s time; John was the terminus ad quem of the period of prophecy which he brought to a close, and he who forms the termination of this epoch then steps upon the scene as the immediate forerunner of the Messiah—as the Elias who was to come. Accordingly, that new violent stirring of life among the people must be connected with this manifestation of Elias. Others interpret differently, while Bleek and Holtzmann are even inclined to suppose that originally Matthew 11:13 was uttered before Matthew 11:12.

καὶ ὁ νόμος] for even with this the era of prophecy began, John 5:46; Acts 7:37; Romans 10:6; Romans 11:19; although prophecy was not the principal function of the law, for which reason the prophets are here mentioned first. Different in Matthew 5:17.

εἰ θέλετε δέξασθαι] if you—and on this it depends whether by you also he is taken for what he is—will not reject this assurance (see on 1 Corinthians 2:14), but are disposed to receive it with a view to fuller consideration. The reason for interposing this remark is to be found in the fact that the unhappy circumstances in which John was then placed appeared to be inconsistent with such a view of his mission.

αὐτός] no other than He.

Ἠλίας] in accordance with Mal. 3:23 (Malachi 4:5), on which the Jews founded the expectation that Elias, who had been taken up into heaven, would appear again in bodily form and introduce the Messiah (Wetstein on this passage; Lightfoot on Matthew 17:10; Schoettgen, p. 148),—an expectation which Jesus regarded as veritably fulfilled in the person and work of the Baptist; in him, according to the ideal meaning of the prophecy, he saw the promised Elias; comp. Luke 1:17.

ὁ μέλλων ἔρχεσθαι] the usual predicate. Bengel: “sermo est tanquam e prospectu testamenti veteris in novum.”

And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come.
He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
Matthew 11:15. A request to give due attention to this important statement in Matthew 11:14. Comp. Matthew 13:9; Mark 4:9; Luke 8:8; Ezekiel 3:27; Hom. Il. xv. 129.

But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows,
Matthew 11:16 ff. After this high testimony respecting the Baptist, we have now a painful charge against the men of his time, whom, in fact, neither John nor Himself is able to satisfy. In expressive, appropriate, and certainly original terms (in answer to Hilgenfeld), He compares the existing generation to children reproaching their playfellows for not being inclined to chime in either with their merry or their lugubrious strains. Usually the Jews are supposed to be represented by those refractory playmates, so that Jesus and John have necessarily to be understood as corresponding to the children who play the cheerful music, and who mourn (Fritzsche, Oppenrieder, Köster in the Stud. u. Krit. 1862, p. 346 f.). But (1) the words expressly intimate that the children with their music and lamentation represented the γενεά, to which John and Jesus stand opposed, so that the latter must therefore correspond to the ἑτέροις who are reproached by the παιδία. (2) If the arrangement of the passage is not to be arbitrarily disturbed, the thrice repeated λέγουσιν must be held to prove that, since those who speak in Matthew 11:18-19 are Jews, it is to these also that the children correspond who are introduced as speaking in Matthew 11:16. (3) If we were to suppose that Jesus and John were represented by those children, then, according to Matthew 11:18-19, it would be necessary to reverse the order of the words in Matthew 11:17, so as to run thus: ἐθρηνήσαμεν ὑμῖνηὐλήσαμεν, etc. Consequently the ordinary explanation of the illustration is wrong. The correct interpretation is this: the παιδία are the Jews; the ἕτεροι are John and Jesus; first came John, who was far too rigid an ascetic to suit the tastes of the free-living Jews (John 5:35); then came Jesus, and He, again, did not come up to their ascetic and hierarchical standard, and was too lax, in their opinion. The former did not dance to their music; the latter did not respond to their lamentation (similarly de Wette with a slight deviation, Ewald, Bleek, Keim).

παιδίοις, κ.τ.λ.] The allusion is to children who in their play (according to Ewald, it was playing at a riddle) imitate the way in which grown-up people give expression to their joy and their sorrow; Rosenmüller, Morgenl. in loco.

The flute was played at weddings and dancings.

ἐκόψασθε] beating upon the breast was the ordinary indication of grief; Ezekiel 20:43; Nahum 2:8; Matthew 24:30; Luke 18:13; Hom. Il. xviii. 31; Plat. Phaed. p. 60 A, al.; Herod. vi. 58; Diod. Sic. i. 44; Köster, Erläut. p. 92 f.

τοῖς ἑπέροις] the other children present, who are not among the number of their playmates.

And saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented.
For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil.
Matthew 11:18-19. Μήτε ἐσθίων μήτε πίνων] hyperbolical; ἡ μὲν Ἰωάννου δίαιτα δυσπρόσιτος καὶ τραχεῖα, Euth. Zigabenus. Comp. Matthew 3:4; Luke 1:15; Daniel 10:3. In contrast to the liberal principles of Jesus, who ate and drank without imposing upon Himself Nazarite abstinences (like John) or regular fastings (Matthew 9:14), or without declining (like the Pharisees) to go to entertainments provided by those in a different rank of life from His own.

δαιμόνιον ἔχει] which, through perverting His judgment, leads Him into those ascetic eccentricities; comp. John 10:20.

φαγός] glutton, is a word belonging to a very late period. See Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 434; on the accent, Lipsius, gramm. Unters. p. 28.

καὶ ἐδικαιώθη ἡ σοφία ἀπὸ τῶν τέκνων αὐτῆς] not a continuation of the words of the Jews, in which case ἐδικαιώθη would have to be taken ironically (in answer to Bornemann), but the closing observation of Jesus in reference to the perverse manner in which His own claims and those of John had been treated by the Jews; and justified (i.e. shown to be the true wisdom) has been the wisdom (the divine wisdom which has been displayed in John and me) on the part of her children, i.e. on the part of those who reverence and obey her (Sir 4:11), who, through their having embraced her and followed her guidance, have proved how unwarranted are those judgments of the profanum vulgus; comp. Luke 7:29. The (actual) confirmation has come to wisdom from those devoted to her (ἀπό, comp. on Acts 2:22; Hermann, ad Soph. El. 65; Kühner, ad Xen. Anab. vi. 5. 18; not ὑπό). Those disciples of wisdom are the same who in Matthew 11:12 are said βιάζειν τὴν βασιλείαν; but the καί which introduces the passage “cum vi pronuntiandum est, ut saepe in sententiis oppositionem continentibus, ubi frustra fuere, qui καίτοι requirerent,” Stallbaum, ad Plat. Apol. p. 29 B. Such a use of καί occurs with special frequency in John. Wolf, ad Lept. p. 238; Hartung, Partikell. I. p. 147. This view is in the main that of (though in some cases the τέκνα τῆς σοφίας has been too much limited by being understood as referring merely to the disciples of Jesus) Jerome (“ego, qui sum Dei virtus et sapientia Dei, juste fecisse ab apostolis meis filiis comprobatus sum”), Münster, Beza, Vatablus, Calovius, Hammond, Jansen, Fritzsche, Olshausen, de Wette, Ebrard, Bleek, Lange, Hofmann, Keim, Weiss. Yet many, while also retaining the meaning given above, take the aorist, though without any warrant from the text, or any example of it in the New Testament, in the sense of cherishing (see Kühner, II. 1, p. 139; Fritzsche, ad Rom. I. p. 305), as Kuinoel (“sapientia non nisi a sapientiae cultoribus et amicis probatur et laudatur, reliqui homines eam rident,” etc.). Chrysostom, Theophylact, and Castalio understand the words as expressing the thought that the wisdom manifested in Jesus has nothing to answer for with regard to the Jews (similarly Weizsäcker); a view to which it may be objected—first, that δικαιοῦσθαι ἀπό τινος cannot be taken in the sense of to be free from the guilt of any one (δικ. ἀπὸ τῆς ἁμαρτίας τινός; comp. Sir 26:29; Romans 6:7); and secondly, that the Jews, unless something in the context should specially suggest or lead to it, cannot straightway be spoken of as the children of wisdom. The latter objection is equally applicable to the explanation of Schneckenburger: and so wisdom (which is supposed to mean God’s care for His people; comp. also Euth. Zigabenus and Grotius) has been treated cavalierly (has been arrogantly condemned) by her own children, which, moreover, is precluded by the fact that δικαιοῦσθαι is never used in this sense in the New Testament. Oppenrieder, p. 441 f., likewise understands the children of wisdom to refer to the Jews, inasmuch, that is, as they were subjected to the discipline of divine wisdom. The doings of σοφία were demonstrated to be righteous by the conduct of the Jews; that is to say, they had desired, instead of John, a divine messenger of a less ascetic character (and him the divine wisdom sent them in the person of Christ); while, on the other hand, instead of Christ, with His freer manner of life, they desired one more rigorously disposed (and this wish the divine wisdom had gratified by giving them the Baptist). So far Schneckenburger. But this conduct of the Jews was capricious and wilful, and was ill calculated to display the justice of the divine dealings, which it could have done only if it had been supposed to proceed from a feeling of real moral need, for which, however, in Matthew 11:16-19, Jesus shows Himself by no means inclined to give them credit. Besides, one is at a loss to see, even if this view were adopted, how the Jews with their foolish and obstinate behaviour should come to be called τέκνα τῆς σοφίας. According to Ewald (Gesch. Chr. p. 432), Jesus means to say that it is just her wrong-headed children (who quarrel with her) that do most to justify the divine wisdom by their not knowing, with all their wisdom, what they would really like. But this view, again, which necessitates an antiphrastic interpretation of the τέκνα τῆς σοφίας, finds no support in the text, besides involving accessory thoughts to which there is no allusion. Similarly Calvin even understood the words to refer to the Jews who thought themselves so wise; before whom, however, wisdom is supposed to assert her dignity and authority through the medium of her genuine children.

The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children.
Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not:
Matthew 11:20 ff. Then He began, and so on (ἤρξατο). Luke introduces this upbraiding of the cities at a later stage—that is, on the occasion when the instructions were addressed to the Seventy (Matthew 10:13-15), for which he is assigned the preference by Schleiermacher, Schneckenburger, Holtzmann; while de Wette and Keim are justified in going against Luke, who generally uses considerable freedom as to the connection in which he introduces the sayings which in this chapter are all connected with the same subject.

The Gospels make no further mention of the miracles in Chorazin and Bethsaida (not far from Capernaum; Robinson, neuere Forsch. p. 457 ff.), John 20:30.

ἐν Τύρῳ κ. Σιδ., κ.τ.λ.] Even these wicked heathen cities would have been brought to amendment long ago with deep sorrow for their sins. The penitent sorrow is represented by ἐν σάκκ. κ. σποδῷ, a form of mourning in popular use among the Jews (comp. on Matthew 6:16).

ἐν σάκκῳ] i.e. in the dark, sack-shaped mourning attire, made of coarse cloth, and drawn over the naked body; Gesenius, Thes. III. p. 1336.

Matthew 11:22. πλήν] however, in the sense of ceterum, that is, to add nothing more, I tell you. Frequently used in this way by classical writers, and comp. note on Ephesians 5:33.

Matthew 11:23. And thou, Capernaum, who hast been exalted to heaven, i.e. raised to the highest distinction through my dwelling and labouring within thee, wilt be brought down to Hades, namely, on the day of judgment, to undergo punishment in Gehenna; see Matthew 11:24. Grotius, Kuinoel, Fritzsche interpret the exaltation of Capernaum as referring to its prosperity, derived from trade, the fisheries, and so on. But this is not in keeping with the connection as indicated by ἐν αἷς ἐγένοντο αἱ πλεῖσται δυνάμεις αὐτοῦ in Matthew 11:20.

Still more humiliating than the comparison with Tyre and Sidon, is that with Sodom; because the responsibility was greatest in the case of Capernaum.

ἔμειναν ἄν] This ἄν, here and in Matthew 11:21, is simply according to rule, because the antecedent clauses contain a sumtio ficta (Ellendt, Lex. Soph. I. p. 488).

Matthew 11:24. Comp. on Matthew 10:15.

ὑμῖνσοί] Euth. Zigabenus: τὸ μὲν ὑμῖν πρὸς τοὺς πολίτας τῆς πόλεως ἐκείνης εἴρηται· τὸ δὲ σοὶ πρὸς τὴν πόλιν. The ὑμῖν, that is, does not refer to the audience (see Matthew 11:22).

Observe further in Matthew 11:21-24, first, how the passage assumes the form of a weighty climax; and then, secondly, the solemn parallelism of the antecedent clauses in Matthew 11:21; Matthew 11:23, and of the threatened punishments in Matthew 11:22; Matthew 11:24.

Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.
But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you.
And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.
But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.
At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.
Matthew 11:25. Ἀποκρ. means, like עָנָה, to take up speech, and that in connection with some given occasion, to which what is said is understood to refer by way of rejoinder. Comp. Matthew 22:1, Matthew 28:5; John 2:18; John 5:17, al. However, the occasion in this instance is not stated. According to Luke 10:21 (Strauss, Ebrard, Bleek, Holtzmann), it was the return of the Seventy, of whom, however, there is no mention in Matthew. Ewald, Weissenborn, and older expositors find it in the return of the apostles. See Mark 6:12; Mark 6:30; Luke 9:6; Luke 9:10. This is the most probable view. Luke has transferred the historical connection of the prayer to the account of the Seventy, which is peculiar to that evangelist; while in Matthew 12:1, Matthew assumes that the Twelve have already returned. The want of precision in Matthew’s account, which in Matthew 10:5 expressly records the sending out of the Twelve, but says nothing of their return, is, of course, a defect in his narrative; but for this reason we should hesitate all the more to regard it as an evidence that we have here only an interpolation (Hilgenfeld) of this “pearl of the sayings of Jesus” (Keim), which is one of the purest and most genuine, one of Johannean splendour (John 8:19; John 10:15; John 14:9; John 16:15).

For ἐξομολογ. with dative, meaning to praise, comp. on Romans 14:11; Sir 51:1.

ταῦτα] what? the imperfect narrative does not say what things, for it introduces this thanksgiving from the collection of our Lord’s sayings, without hinting why it does so. But from the contents of the prayer, as well as from its supposed occasion,—viz. the return of the Twelve with their cheering report,—it may be inferred that Jesus is alluding to matters connected with the Messianic kingdom which He had communicated to the disciples (Matthew 13:11), matters in the proclaiming of which they had been labouring, and at the same time been exercising the miraculous powers conferred upon them.

The σοφοί and συνετοί are the wise and intelligent generally (1 Corinthians 1:19; 1 Corinthians 3:10), but used with special reference to the scribes and Pharisees, who, according to their own opinion and that of the people (John 9:40), were pre-eminently so. The novices (פְּתָאִים), the disciples, who are unversed in the scholastic wisdom of the Jews. Comp. on this subject, 1 Corinthians 1:26 ff. Yet on this occasion we must not suppose the reference to be to the simple and unsophisticated masses (Keim), which is not in keeping with Matthew 11:27, nor with the idea of ἀποκάλυψις (comp. Matthew 16:17) generally, as found in this connection; the contrast applies to two classes of teachers, the one wise and prudent, independently of divine revelation, the others mere novices in point of learning, but yet recipients of that revelation.

Observe, further, how the subject of thanksgiving does not lie merely in ἀπεκάλυψ. αὐτὰ νηπίοις, but in the two,—the ἀπέκρυψας etc., and the ἀπεκάλυψας, etc., being inseparably combined. Both together are the two sides of the one method of proceeding on the part of His all-ruling Father, of the necessity of which Christ was well aware (John 9:39).

Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight.
Matthew 11:26. Solution of the contradiction regarded as a confirmation of the ground for thanksgiving. Understand ἐξομολογοῦμαί σοι before ὅτι (not because, but that, as in Matthew 11:25).

ἔμπροσθέν σου] belongs to εὐδοκία: that thus (and not otherwise) was done (was accomplished, comp. Matthew 6:10) what is well-pleasing before Thee, in Thy sight; what is to Thee an object pleasing to look upon. Comp. Matthew 18:14; Hebrews 13:21. For εὐδοκία, comp. Matthew 3:17; Luke 2:14.

All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.
Matthew 11:27. Here the prayer ends, and He turns to address the multitude (Matthew 11:28),—but, according to Luke 10:22, it is His disciples,—still full of the great thought of the prayer, under a profound feeling of His peculiar fellowship with God.

πάντα μοι παρεδ.] It is quite as unwarrantable to limit πάντα in any way whatever, as it is to take παρεδόθη as referring to the revelation of the doctrine (Grotius, Kuinoel, and others), or to the representation of the highest spiritual truths (Keim), which Christ is supposed to have been appointed to communicate to mankind. It is not even to be restricted to all human souls (Gess). What Jesus indicates and has in view, is the full power with which, in sending Him forth, the Father is understood to have invested the Son, a power to dispose of everything so as to promote the object for which He came; Bengel: “nihil sibi reservavit pater.” Jesus speaks thus in the consciousness of the universal authority (Matthew 28:18; Hebrews 2:8) conferred upon Him, from which nothing is excluded (John 13:3; John 16:15); for He means to say, that between Him and the Father there exists such a relation that no one knows the Son, and so on.[443] On both thoughts Christ founds the invitation in Matthew 11:28. On the relation of the words πάντα μοι παρεδ. to Matthew 28:18, see note on that passage.

ἘΠΙΓΙΝΏΣΚΕΙ] means more than the simple verb, viz. an adequate and full knowledge, which de Wette wrongly denies (see οὐδὲ τὸν πατέρα τις ἐπιγινώσκει). Comp. on 1 Corinthians 13:12. Nothing is to be inferred from this passage as to the supernatural origin of Jesus (in answer to Beyschlag, Christol. p. 60). The ἐπιγινώσκειν τὸν υἱόν applies to His whole nature and thinking and acting, not merely to His moral constitution, a limitation (in answer to Weiss) which, if necessary, would have been shown to be so in the context by means of the second correlative clause of the verse.

ᾧ ἐὰν βουλ. ὁ υἱὸς ἀποκαλ.] bears the impress of superhuman consciousness. According to the context, we have simply to regard τὸν πατέρα as the object of ἀποκαλ. For ἈΠΟΚΑΛ. with a personal object, comp. Galatians 1:16.

[443] In this first clause, to supply the thought from the first—viz., “and to whom the Father is willing to reveal it” (de Wette, following the older expositors)—is arbitrary, for Jesus has just said: πάντα μοι παρεδόθη, etc. To whomsoever the Son reveals the knowledge of the Father, to him He thereby reveals the knowledge of the Son likewise.—Hilgenfeld adopts the Marcionite reading: οὐδεὶς ἔγνω τὸν πατέρα εἰ μὴ ὁ υἱὸς, καὶ τὸν υἱὸν εἰ μὴ ὁ πατὴρ καὶ ᾧ ἂν ὁ υἱὸς ἀποκαλύψῃ. This reading, being that of the Clementines, Justin, Marcion, has earlier testimony in its favour than that of the Received text, which first appears in Irenaeus in a duly authenticated form; Irenaeus, i. 20. 3, ascribes it to the Marcosians, though he elsewhere adopts it himself. However, an examination of the authorities leads to the conclusion (see Tischendorf) that it must be excluded from the text. Comp. also note on Luke 10:21.

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Matthew 11:28. Πάντες] gratia universalis. “In this all thou oughtest to include thyself as well, and not suppose that thou dost not belong to the number; thou shouldst not seek for another register of God,” Melanchthon.

κοπ. καί πεφορτ.] through the legal and Pharisaic ordinances under which the man is exhausted and weighed down as with a heavy burden, without getting rid of the painful consciousness of sin, Matthew 23:4. Comp. Acts 15:10; Acts 13:39.

κἀγώ] emphatic: and I, what your teachers and guides cannot do.

ἀναπαύσω] I will procure you rest, i.e. ἐλευθερώσω καὶ τοῦ τοιούτου κόπου καὶ τοῦ τοιούτου βάρους (Euth. Zigabenus), so as to secure the true peace of your souls, John 14:27; John 16:33; Romans 5:1. Matthew 11:29 tells in what way.

Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
Matthew 11:29-30. To regard ζυγός (Olshausen, Calvin) as referring to the cross, is at variance with the context. Jesus has in view His guidance and discipline, to which they are to subject themselves through faith in Him. Comp. Sir 51:26, and the very common Rabbinical use of עול in Schoettgen, p. 115 ff.

ὅτι] not that, but because; motive for μάθετε ἀπʼ ἐμοῦ (i.e. learn in me, learn from me; Buttmann, neut. Gr. p. 279 [E. T. 324]), with which words Jesus presents Himself as their moral example, in contrast to the character of the teachers of the law and the Pharisees, who, if they affected to be meek and humble, were, as a rule, not so at heart (τῇ καρδ. belongs to both words), but only in appearance, while in reality they were tyrannical and proud. Comp. 2 Corinthians 10:1.

κ. εὑρήσετε, κ.τ.λ.] Jeremiah 6:16.

χρηστός] may mean good and wholesome (comp. παίδευσις χρηστή, Plat. Rep. p. 424 A), or suave (Vulg.), gentle and agreeable. The latter suits the figure and the parallelism.

τὸ φορτίον μου] the burden which I impose (comp. on Galatians 6:5).

ἐλαφρόν] for it is the discipline and duty of love, through which faith manifests its practical results, 1 John 5:3. “Omnia levia sunt caritati” (Augustine), notwithstanding the strait gate and the narrow way, and the cross that is to be borne.

For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Heinrich August Wilhelm Meyer's NT Commentary

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