And he began to speak unto them by parables. A certain man planted a vineyard, and set an hedge about it, and digged a place for the winefat, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country.
Verse 1. - And he began to speak unto them in parables. This particular parable which follows was specially directed against the scribes and Pharisees; but it was uttered in the presence of a multitude of the people. "He began to speak... in parables." He had not used this form of instruction till now in Jerusalem. A man planted a vineyard. The imagery of the parable would be familiar to them from Isaiah (Isaiah 5:1). But Palestine was eminently a land of "vineyards," as well as of "oil olives." The man who planted the vineyard is no other than God himself. "Thou hast brought a vine" out of Egypt; thou hast cast out the heathen, and planted it." The imagery is specially appropriate. No property was considered to yield so rich a return as the vineyard, and none required such unceasing care and attention. The vine represents the kingdom of God in its idea and conception; not the Jewish Church in particular. The owner of this vineyard had himself made it. (He had "planted it." This planting took place in the establishment of the Jewish polity in the land of Canaan, when the heathen were cast out. He set a hedge about it. This and the following descriptions are not mere ornaments of the parable. The "hedge" was an important protection to the vineyard. It might be a wall or a "quick hedge," a living fence. The vineyards in the East may now be seen often with a strong hedge planted round them. Such hedges, made of the prickly cactus, are to be seen at this day in the neighborhood of Joppa. Figuratively, this hedge would represent the middle wall of partition which then existed between the Jew and the Gentile; and in this, their separation from the idolatrous nations around them, lay the security of the Jews that they should enjoy the continued protection of God. It is well remarked by Archbishop Trench that the geographical position of Judaea was figurative of this, the spiritual separation of the people - guarded as Judaea was eastward by the river Jordan and its chain of lakes, northward by Antilibanus, southward by the desert and Idumaea, and westward by the Mediterranean Sea. Digged a place for the winepress (ληνός torcular); the words are literally, digged a pit for the winepress (ὤρυξεν ὑπολήνιον); the digging could only apply to the pit, a place hollowed out and then fitted with masonry. Sometimes these pits were formed out of the solid rock. Examples of these are frequent in Palestine. There were usually two pits hollowed out of the rock, one sloping to the other, and with openings between them. The grapes were placed in the upper pit; and the juice, crushed out by the feet of men, flowed into the lower pit, from whence it was taken out and put into wine-skins. "I have trodden the winepress alone." And built a tower. The tower (πύργον) was probably the watch-tower, where a watchman was placed to guard the vineyard from plunderers. Particular directions are given in the rabbinical writings (see Lightfoot) for the dimensions both of the winepress and of the tower. The tower was to be ten cubits high and four cubits square. It is described as "a high place, where the vine-dresser stands to overlook the vineyard." Such towers are still to be seen in Palestine, especially in the neighborhood of Bethlehem, of Hebron, and in the vine-growing districts of Lebanon. And let it out to husbandmen. The husbandmen would be the ordinary stated teachers of the people, though not excluding the people themselves. The Jewish nation in fact, both the teachers and the taught, represented the husbandmen, each member of the Church, then as now, being required to seek the welfare of the whole, body. And went into a far country (καὶ ἀπεδήμηδε); literally, and went into another country. St. Luke (Luke 20:9) adds (χρόνους ἱκανούς), "for a long time."
And at the season he sent to the husbandmen a servant, that he might receive from the husbandmen of the fruit of the vineyard.
Verses 2-5. - And at the season he sent to the husbandmen a servant, that he might receive from the husbandmen of the fruits of the vineyard. St. Matthew (Matthew 21:34) says he sent "his servants." St. Mark mentions them in detail. These servants were the prophets, as Isaiah, Jeremiah, and others, whom the Jews persecuted and slew in different ways, as the reprovers of their vices. But the mercy of God was long-suffering, and still triumphed over their wickedness. In his account of this parable St. Mark is very minute. The first servant that was sent received no fruit, and was beaten. The second received much worse usage. According to the Authorized Version the words are, At him they cast stones, and wounded him in the head, and sent him away shamefully handled (κἀκεῖνον λιθοβολήσαντες ἐκεφαλαίωσαν καὶ ἀπέστειλαν ἠτιμωμένον). The word λιθοβολήσαντες is, however, not to be found in the best authorities; and the right reading of the next word is apparently ἐκεφαλίωσαν a very unusual word; but the context makes it plain that it expresses some injury done to the head. The other form of the word is usual enough; but it ordinarily signifies "a summing up," "a gathering up into a head." And handled shamefully ἠτιμωμένον); literally, dishonored. The third messenger they killed outright. The words run. And him they killed; and many others; beating some, and killing some. The construction here is incomplete, although the meaning is plain. The complete sentence would be, "And him they killed; and they did violence to many others, beating some and killing some."
And they caught him, and beat him, and sent him away empty.
And again he sent unto them another servant; and at him they cast stones, and wounded him in the head, and sent him away shamefully handled.
And again he sent another; and him they killed, and many others; beating some, and killing some.
Having yet therefore one son, his wellbeloved, he sent him also last unto them, saying, They will reverence my son.
Verses 6-8. - Having yet therefore one son, his well-beloved. There is strong evidence in favor of a different reading here: namely (ἔτι ἕνα εἰχεν υἱὸν ἀγαπητὸν), he had yet one, a beloved son. There is something very touching in this form of expression. Many messages had been sent; many means had been tried. But one other resource remained. "There is one, a beloved on. I will send him; they will, surely reverence him (ἐντραπήσονται τὸν υἰόν μου). They will reflect, and reflection will bring shame and submission and reverence." This was the last effort of Divine mercy - the sending of the Incarnate God, whom the Jews put to death without the city. St. Mark's words seem rather to imply that they killed him within the vineyard, and cast out the dead body. But it is possible that in his narrative he mentions the climax first - they killed him, and then returns to a detail of the dreadful tragedy; they cast him out of the vineyard, and there slew him (See Matthew 21:39.)
But those husbandmen said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be ours.
And they took him, and killed him, and cast him out of the vineyard.
What shall therefore the lord of the vineyard do? he will come and destroy the husbandmen, and will give the vineyard unto others.
Verse 9. - What therefore will the lord of the vineyard do? In St. Matthew's narrative the scribes answer this question. St. Luke, as St. Mark here, assigns the answer to our Lord. It would seem probable that the scribes first answered him, and that then he himself repeated their answer, and confirmed it by his looks and gesture; so that from thence, as well as from what followed, they might sufficiently understand that he spake these things of them. Then, according to St. Luke (Luke 20:16), they subjoined the words, "God forbid!" an expression wrung from their consciences, which accused them and told them that the parable applied to them. Here, then, we have a distinct prediction of the rejection of the Jews and the call of the Gentiles.
And have ye not read this scripture; The stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the corner:
Verses 10, 11. - This quotation is from Psalm 118:22, where David prophesies of Christ. The meaning is plainly this, that the chief priests and scribes, as the builders of the Jewish Church, rejected Christ from the building as a useless stone; yea, more - they condemned and crucified him. They rejected him (ἀπεδοκίμασαν). The verb in the Greek implies that the stone was first examined and then deliberately refused. But this stone, thus disallowed and set at nought by the builders, was made the head of the corner. The image here is different from that used in the Epistles, where Christ is spoken of as the chief Corner-stone in the foundation. Here he is represented as the Corner-stone in the cornice. In real truth he is both. He is the tried Foundation-stone. But he is also the Head of the corner. In the great spiritual building he is "all and in all," uniting and binding together all in one. This was the Lord's doing (παρὰ Κυρίου ἐγένετο αὕτη); literally, this was from the Lord. The feminine (αὔτη) refers apparently to κεφαλή. This lifting up of the despised and rejected stone to be the Corner-stone of the cornice was God's work; and was a fitting object for wonder and praise.
This was the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?
And they sought to lay hold on him, but feared the people: for they knew that he had spoken the parable against them: and they left him, and went their way.
Verse 12. - The scribes and Pharisees knew, partly from the words of this psalm, and partly from the looks of Christ, that they were spoken against them. So they sought in their rage and malice to lay hold on him; but they feared the people, with whom he was still popular. Thus, however, by his rebuke of the scribes and Pharisees, he prepared the way for that death which, within three days, they brought upon him. And the counsel of God was fulfilled for the redemption of men by the blood of Christ.
And they send unto him certain of the Pharisees and of the Herodians, to catch him in his words.
Verses 13, 14. - St. Matthew (Matthew 22:15) tells us that "the Pharisees took counsel how they might ensnare him (ὅπως αὐτὸν παγιδεύσωσιν) in his talk;" namely, by proposing to him captious and insidious questions, which, in whatever way he might answer them, might expose him to danger. On this occasion they enlisted the Heredians to join them in their attack upon him. These Herodians were a sect of the Jews who supported the house of Herod, and were in favor of giving tribute to the Roman Caesar. They were so called at first from Herod the Great, who was a great supporter of Caesar. Tertullian, St. Jerome, and others say that these Herodiaus thought that Herod was the promised Messiah, because they saw that in him the scepter had departed from Judah (Genesis 49:10). Herod encouraged these flatterers, and so put to death the infants at Bethlehem, that he might thus get rid of Christ, lest any other than himself might be regarded as Christ. They said at it was on this account that he rebuilt the temple with so much magnificence. The Pharisees took, of course, altogether the other side, and stood forward as the supporters of the Law of Moses and of their national freedom. So, in order that they might ensnare him, they sent to him their disciples with the Herodians, and in the most artful manner proposed to him, apparently in good faith, a question which answer it how he might, would, as they hoped, throw him upon the horns of a dilemma. If he said that tribute ought to be given to Caesar, he would expose himself to the malice of the Jewish people, who prided themselves upon their freedom. If, on the other hand, he said that tribute ought not to be given to Caesar, he would incur the wrath of Caesar and of the Roman power.
And when they were come, they say unto him, Master, we know that thou art true, and carest for no man: for thou regardest not the person of men, but teachest the way of God in truth: Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not?
Shall we give, or shall we not give? But he, knowing their hypocrisy, said unto them, Why tempt ye me? bring me a penny, that I may see it.
Verses 15, 16. - St. Matthew (Matthew 22:18) says, "But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites?' You pretend that you are approaching me with a good conscience, sincerely desirous to know how you ought to act in this matter; when at the same time you are enemies alike of me and of God, and are thirsting for my blood, and are doing all in your power to torment me, and to entangle me by fraud. "The first virtue," says St. Jerome, "of the respondent is to know the mind of the questioner, and to adapt his answer accordingly." These Pharisees and Heredians flatter Christ that they may destroy him; but he rebukes them, that, if possible, be might save them. Bring me a penny, that I may see it. The Roman denarius was equal to about eight-pence halfpenny. This was the coin in which the tribute money was to be paid. It had stamped upon it the image of Tiberius Caesar, the then reigning Roman emperor. The cognomen of Caesar was first given to Julius Caesar, from whom it was devolved to his successors. The current coin of the country proved the subjection of the country to him whose image was upon it. Maimonides, quoted by Dr. John Lightfoot (vol. 2 p. 230), says, "Wheresoever the money of any king is current, there the inhabitants acknowledge that king for their lord."
And they brought it. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? And they said unto him, Caesar's.
And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's. And they marvelled at him.
Verse 17. - Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's. It is as though our Lord said, "Since you Jews are now subject to Caesar - and there is here this evidence of it, that his coin is current amongst you; you would not use it were you not obliged, because all Gentile rites and symbols are an abhorrence to you; - but since Caesar demands nothing of you but his tribute - the coin stamped with his own image and name - it is your duty to render to him his own denarius for tribute. But spiritual things, such as worship and obedience, give these to God; for these he demands from you as his right, and by so doing you will offend neither God nor yet Caesar." Our Lord, in his infinite wisdom, avoids the question altogether whether the Jews were rightly in subjection to the Romans. This was a doubtful question. But there could be no doubt as to the fact that they were tributary. This was made plain by the evidence of the current coin. Now, this being so, it was manifestly the duty of the Jewish people to give to Caesar the tribute money which he demanded of them for the expenses of government, and especially of supporting an army to defend them from their enemies. And it was no less their duty to give their tribute to God, which he in his own right demanded of them as his creatures and faithful subjects. The rights of Caesar are one thing, and those of God are another; and there is nothing that need clash between them. State polity is not opposed to religion, nor religion to state. Tertullian says, "'Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's;' that is, give to Caesar his image stamped upon his coin, and give to God his own image stamped upon you; so that while you render to Caesar the coin which is his due, you may render your own self to God." This wonderful answer of our Lord teaches us that we ought to try to speak so wisely, and so to moderato our speech amongst those who are captious, that we may, if possible, offend neither side, but steer safely between Scylla and Charybdis. And they marvelled at him. The true Greek reading of the verb here is not ἐθαύμασαν, but ἐξεθαύμαζον, they marvelled greatly at him; they stood marvelling greatly at him. They marvelled at his wisdom and skill in extricating himself so readily out of this net in which they had hoped to entangle him. Indeed, the words of the psalmist (Psalm 9:15) were verified in them: "The wicked is snared in the work of his own hands." He vaulted over the trap set for him, leaving them entangled in it. He lifted up the question far above the petty controversy of the hour, and affirmed a great principle of natural and religious obligation which belongs alike to all times and persons and places.
Then come unto him the Sadducees, which say there is no resurrection; and they asked him, saying,
Verses 18-23. - And there come unto him Sadducees, which say that there is no resurrection. Josephus states that in the time of Judas Maceabaeus there were three sects of the Jews, differing amongst themselves, namely, the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the Essenes. The Hebrew word Zadoc, from which the Sadducees derive their name, means "just." or" righteous." These Sadducees accepted the Pentateuch, and probably more than the Pentateuch; but they rejected any oral tradition. They were known in the time of our Lord as denying those doctrines which connect us more immediately with another world, such as the existence of spirits and of angels, and the resurrection of the body. They altogether denied fate, affirming that all things are in our own power. They heard Christ preach the resurrection, and by means of it persuade men to repentance and a holy life. They therefore proposed to him a question which appeared to them to be fatal to the doctrine of a future state and a resurrection. The case supposed is that of seven brethren, who, in compliance with the Law of Moses, one after another, as each died in succession, took the same woman to wife. It is probable that such a case may actually have occurred; at any rate, it was a possible case. And the question founded upon it by the Sadducees was this - Whose wife would she be of them in the resurrection? Here, then, they hoped to entangle him, and to show that the doctrine of the resurrection was absurd. For if our Lord should say that in the resurrection she would be the wife of one only, the other brethren would have been excited to envy and continual strife. Nor could he have said that she would be common to the seven brothers. Such were the absurdities which, as they intimated, would flow out of his doctrine of the resurrection, if it could be proved. But our Lord scatters to the winds all this foolish reasoning, by adding one clause omitted by them, and overlooked by men of mere earthly minds, namely, that in the world to come this widow would be the wife of none of the seven brethren.
Master, Moses wrote unto us, If a man's brother die, and leave his wife behind him, and leave no children, that his brother should take his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother.
Now there were seven brethren: and the first took a wife, and dying left no seed.
And the second took her, and died, neither left he any seed: and the third likewise.
And the seven had her, and left no seed: last of all the woman died also.
In the resurrection therefore, when they shall rise, whose wife shall she be of them? for the seven had her to wife.
And Jesus answering said unto them, Do ye not therefore err, because ye know not the scriptures, neither the power of God?
Verse 24. - These Sadducees erred in two ways:
(1) They did not know or remember the Scriptures, such as that in Job (Job 21:25), "I know that my Redeemer liveth," etc., or in Isaiah (Isaiah 26:19), "Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise;" or in Daniel (Daniel 12:2), "Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake," etc.
(2) They did not know the power of God, namely, that he can raise the bodies of the dead again to life, even as at first he created them out of nothing; for a greater power is required to make that to be which was not, than to make that again to be which once was. But then the resurrection life will be a new life, spiritual, glorious, eternal, like that of the angels. So in these words our Lord struck at the double root of the error of the Sadducees:
(1) ignorance of the Scriptures, which plainly teach the resurrection; and
(2) ignorance of the power of God, which led them to interpret these Scriptures, which speak of the resurrection, to mean only a mystical resurrection from vice to virtue.
For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels which are in heaven.
Verse 25. - But are as angels in heaven - not "the angels;" the οἱ is omitted. The blessed, after the resurrection, will be like angels as to purity, as to a spiritual life, as to immortality, as to happiness and glory. There will be no necessity for marriages in heaven. Here, on earth, the father dies, but he lives on in his children after death. In heaven there is no death, but every one will live and be blessed for ever; and therefore it is that St. Luke adds here, "Neither can they die any more." St. Augustine says, "Marriages are on account of children; children on account of succession; succession on account of death. But in heaven, as there is no death, neither is there any marriage."
And as touching the dead, that they rise: have ye not read in the book of Moses, how in the bush God spake unto him, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?
Verse 26. - St. Mark is here careful to state that what St. Matthew describes as "the word spoken by God" was to be found in the book of Moses (Exodus 3:5), in the place concerning the Bush (ἐπὶ τῆς βάτου), as it is correctly rendered in the Revised Version. Our Lord might have brought yet clearer proofs out of Job, Daniel, Ezekiel, etc.; but in his wisdom he preferred to allege this out of Moses and the Pentateuch, because, whatever the views of the Sadducees may have been as to other parts of the Old Testament, these books of Moses they readily acknowledged. I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. The force of the argument is this, that "God is not the God of the dead, but of the living." Their souls are still alive; and if these patriarchs are still alive, there will be a resurrection. If men are to live for ever, they will, sooner or later, live again in the completeness of their being, namely, of body and soul and spirit. Our Lord would, therefore, say this: "In a few days you will put me to death; but in three days I shall rise again from the dead. And after that, in due time I shall raise them from the dead at the last day, and bring them in triumph with me into heaven." The Sadducees and the Epicureans denied the resurrection, because they denied the immortality of the soul; for these two doctrines hang together. For if the soul is immortal, then, since it naturally depends upon the body, it is necessary that the body should rise. Otherwise the soul would continue to exist in a dislocated state, and would only obtain a divided life and an imperfect existence. Hence our Lord here distinctly proves the resurrection of the body from the immortality of the soul. When he speaks of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, he does not speak of their souls only, but of their whole being. Therefore, though they are for a time dead to us, yet they live to God, and sleep, as it were, because ere long God will raise them from death, as from a sleep, to a blessed and endless life. For all, though they have passed out of our sight, still live to him.
He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living: ye therefore do greatly err.
Verse 27. - Ye therefore do greatly err. The Greek is, omitting the οϋν, simply ὑμεῖς πολὺ πλανᾶσθε, Ye greatly err. The omission is more consistent with St. Mark's usual style. The Sadducees entirely misunderstood the meaning of their own Scriptures.
And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all?
Verse 28. - St. Matthew (Matthew 22:34) says here that the Pharisees, when they heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, gathered themselves together, and that then one of them, who was a lawyer (νομίνος), that is, "a scribe," asked him this question, What commandment is the first of all? It appears here from St. Mark that this scribe had been present at the discussion with the Sadducees, and he had probably informed the others of what had taken place, and of the wisdom and power of our Lord's answer; so he was naturally put forward to try our Lord with another crucial question. It does not necessarily appear that he had an evil intention in putting this question. He may, in his own mind (seeing the wisdom and skill of our Lord), have desired to hear what Christ had to say to a very difficult question on a matter deeply interesting to all true Hebrews. The question was one much mooted amongst the Jews in the time of our Lord. "For many," says Beds, "thought that the first commandment in the Law related to offerings and sacrifices, with regard to which so much is said in Leviticus, and that the right worship of God consisted in the due offering of these." On this account the Pharisees encouraged children to say "Corban" to their parents; and hence this candid and truth-loving scribe, when he heard our Lord's answer about the love of God and of our neighbor, said that such obedience was worth "more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices." With regard to the love of God, St. Bernard says, "The measure of our love to God is to love him without measure; for the immense goodness of God deserves all the love that we can possibly give to him."
And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:
And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.
And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.
Verse 31. - Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. God is to be loved above everything - above all angels, or men, or any created thing. But after God, amongst created things, our neighbor is above all to be loved. And we are to extend to our neighbor that kind of love with which we love ourselves. Our love of ourselves is not a frigid love, but a sincere and ardent love. In like manner we should love our neighbour, and desire for him all those good things both for the body and for the soul that we desire for ourselves. This is what our Lord himself teaches us. "All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, even so do unto them." There is none other commandment greater than these. St. Matthew (Matthew 22:40) says, "On these two commandments hang the whole Law and the prophets." There is no commandment greater than these, because all the precepts of the Divine Law are included in them. So that our Lord here teaches us that we ought continually to have these two precepts in our minds and before our eyes, and direct all our thoughts and words and actions by them, and regulate our whole life according to them.
And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he:
Verse 32. - The first words of this verse should be rendered thus: Of a truth, Master, thou hast well said that he is one. In the remainder of the scribe's answer we find a different word used in the Greek for" mind," or "understanding," from that just used by our Lord. In our Lord's answer the word is διάνοια. Here it is σύνεσις. Both words are well rendered by "understanding." It is an act of understanding. It is the thought associating itself with the object, and "standing under" it so as to support it. (See Dr. Morison on St. Mark.)
And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.
Verse 33. - Is more (περισσότερόν) - according to the most approved reading, more - than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices. This scribe was evidently emerging out of the bondage of ceremonial things, and perceiving the supremacy of the moral law.
And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. And no man after that durst ask him any question.
Verse 34. - And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly (νουνεχῶς), he said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. It would appear from this answer that our Lord regarded him as one who approached him with the sincere desire to know the truth, and so he encouraged him. This shows how powerful an influence our Lord's teaching had already exercised amongst all classes of the Jews. This scribe, notwithstanding the prejudices of his class, had reached the border-land of the kingdom. He had learnt that the true way to the kingdom was by the love of God and of our neighbor. He was not far from the kingdom - not far from "the Church militant here on earth," by which is the way to the Church triumphant in heaven. He was not far from the kingdom, but still he wanted that which in the true pathway to the kingdom - faith in Christ as the Savior of the world. And no man after that durst ask him any question. St. Matthew (Matthew 22:46) places these words after the next occurrence. But there is no inconsistency in the two narratives, because in this next incident our Lord puts the question to them; and this silenced both their questioning and their answering. All felt that there was such a vast reach of wisdom and knowledge in all that he said, that it was in vain to contend with him.
And Jesus answered and said, while he taught in the temple, How say the scribes that Christ is the Son of David?
Verse 35. - Our Lord was now in the temple, and he took the opportunity for instructing the scribes and Pharisees concerning his person and his dignity. Thus, as ever, he returned good for evil. He here taught them that the Messiah was not a mere man, as they supposed, but that he was i both God and man, and that therefore they ought not to wonder or to be offended because he called himself the Son of God. St. Matthew (Matthew 22:42) more fully gives their answer first, namely, that "Christ is the Son of David." They should have said that, as God, he was the Son of God, according to those words, "Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee;" but that, as man, he was the Son of David. Their answer was very different from that of Peter: "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." But they wanted the Divine knowledge which the disciples had gained.
For David himself said by the Holy Ghost, The LORD said to my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool.
Verse 36. - The Lord said unto my Lord. From this verse (Psalm 110.) our Lord shows that the Messiah, such as he was, was not a mere man, as the Pharisees thought, but that he was God, and therefore David's Lord. The meaning, therefore, is this, "The Lord God said to my Lord," that is, Christ, "Sit thou at my right hand," that is, when, after his cross, his death, and his resurrection, he will exalt him far above all principality and power, and place him next to him in heaven, that he may reign with supreme happiness and power and glory over all creatures. These words show that this is a Divine decree, fixed and irrevocable. Till I make thine enemies thy footstool (ὑποπόδιον τῶν ποδῶν σου); literally, the footstool of thy feet; that is, reign with me in glory until the day of judgment, when I will make the wicked, all opposing powers, subject to thee. The word "till" does not imply that Christ will then cease to reign. "Of his kingdom there shall be no end." But he will then formally deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father, only that he may receive it again as the second Person of the Godhead.
David therefore himself calleth him Lord; and whence is he then his son? And the common people heard him gladly.
And he said unto them in his doctrine, Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces,
Verses 38, 39. - These verses are a condensation of the woes recorded at length by St. Matthew (23.). And he said unto them in his doctrine (ἐν τῇ διδαχῇ αὑτοῦ) - literally, in his teaching - Beware of the scribes which desire (τῶν θελόντων) to walk in long robes (ἐν στολαῖς). The στόλη was a rich robe which reached down to the ankles, and was adorned with fringes. The scribes took pleasure in this kind of display. The salient points in their character were ostentation, avarice, and religious hypocrisy.
And the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts:
Which devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayers: these shall receive greater damnation.
Verse 40. - There is a change in the construction here, which is not marked in the Authorized Version. The sentence in this fortieth verse should stand alone, and be read thus: They which devour (οἱ κατεσθίοντες) widows' houses, and for a pretense make long prayers; these shall receive greater condemnation. The sentence thus read is far more graphic. The statement thus becomes indeed more general, but the reference is still to the scribes who through their avarice swallowed up the property of helpless widows, and through their hypocrisy, in the hope of thus more effectually imposing upon their victims, lengthened out their prayers. Greater condemnation. The word in the Greek is κρίμα, that is, "judgment." A severer sentence would fall upon them in the day of judgment and a heavier condemnation, because, under the semblance of piety, they practiced iniquity, and indulged their avarice under the mask of religion.
And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much.
Verse 41. - He sat down over against the treasury (γαζοφυλάκιον, from γάζα, a Persian word meaning "treasure," and φυλάττειν, to guard). This was the receptacle into which the offerings of the people were east, for the uses of the temple and for the benefit of the priests and of the poor. Hence that part of the temple in which these gifts were kept was called the treasury. He beheld (ἐθεώρει) - literally, he was beholding; he was observing - how the multitude πῶς ὁ ὄχλος - that is, in what manner, with what motives (for he was the heart-searcher) the crowd of givers - cast money (βάλλει χαλκόν); literally, is casting· St. Luke uses the term (τὰ δῶρα) "their gifts." Many that were rich cast in much (πολλά), that is, "many pieces." There were several apertures in the treasury, which from their shape were called trumpets. Some of these had special inscriptions, marking the destination of the offerings.
And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing.
Verse 42. - A poor widow (μία χήρα πτωχὴ); literally, one poor widow; one specially singled out for notice. St. Luke says, εῖδε δὲ καί τινα χήραν πενιχρὰν: literally, a widow who supported herself by her own little labor. And she cast in two mites (λεπτὰ), which make a farthing. The farthing was the fourth part of an as, and ten of these made a denarius. The Greek word (λεπτὰ) means literally "thin pieces."
And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury:
Verses 43, 44. - This poor widow hath cast in more. The right reading of the verb here is ἔβαλε, not βέβληκε; this aoristic rendering has very good authority - this poor widow cast in more. Her act is completed, and has gone up for a memorial before God . She "gave" more than all the others who are casting (τῶν βαλλόντων), not "have cast in (τῶν βαλόντων)." She gave more, when she threw in those two mites, than all the others were giving - more, that is, in the estimation of him who sees not as man sees. God does not weigh the gift so much as the mind of the giver. That gift is really the greater in his sight, not which is actually of greater value, but which is greater in respect of the giver. Therefore this poor widow, when she gave her farthing, gave more than they all, because she gave all her living - all, that is, that she had beforehand for that day, trusting that the Lord would give her her bread for that day. And so she carried off the palm for liberality, Christ himself proudly present, but what you offer with being the Judge. St. Ambrose says, "That humility and devotion." which God esteems is not that which you proudly present, but what you offer with humility and devotion.
For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.