Vincent's Word Studies
At that time Jesus went on the sabbath day through the corn; and his disciples were an hungred, and began to pluck the ears of corn, and to eat.
Rev., season. The word implies particular time; as related to some event, a convenient, appropriate time; absolutely, a particular point of time, or a particular season, like spring or winter.
From σπείρω, to sow. Properly, as Rev., corn-fields.
But when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto him, Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the sabbath day.
What is not lawful
"On any ordinary day this would have been lawful; but on the Sabbath it involved, according to the Rabbinic statutes, at least two sins, viz., plucking the ears, which was reaping, and rubbing them in their hands (Luke 6:1), which was sifting, grinding, or fanning. The Talmud says: 'In case a woman rolls wheat to remove the husks, it is considered as sifting; if she rubs the heads of wheat, it is regarded as threshing; if she cleans off the side-adherencies, it is sifting out fruit; if she bruises the ears, it is grinding; if she throws them up in her hand, it is winnowing'" (Edersheim, "Life and Times of Jesus").
But he said unto them, Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with him;
How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests?
Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless?
But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple.
One greater (μείζων)
The correct reading makes the adjective neuter, so that the right rendering is something greater (Rev., in margin). The reference is, of course, to Christ himself (compare Matthew 12:41, Matthew 12:42, where the neuter πλεῖον, more (so Rev., in margin), is used in the same way). Compare, also, John 2:19, where Christ speaks of his own body as a temple. The indefiniteness of the neuter gives a more solemn and impressive sense.
But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless.
For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day.
And when he was departed thence, he went into their synagogue:
And, behold, there was a man which had his hand withered. And they asked him, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath days? that they might accuse him.
Is it lawful ? (εἰ ἔξεστιν)
The εἰ can hardly be rendered into English. It gives an indeterminate, hesitating character to the question: I would like to know if, etc.
And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out?
How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days.
Then saith he to the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it forth; and it was restored whole, like as the other.
Stretch forth thy hand
The arm was not withered.
Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him.
But when Jesus knew it, he withdrew himself from thence: and great multitudes followed him, and he healed them all;
And charged them that they should not make him known:
That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying,
Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles.
He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets.
A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory.
The Hebrew is, literally, a dimly burning wick he shall not quench (Isaiah 42:3). The quotation stops at the end of the third verse in the prophecy; but the succeeding verse is beautifully suggestive as describing the Servant of Jehovah by the same figures in which he pictures his suffering ones - a wick and a reed. "He shall not burn dimly, neither shall his spirit be crushed." He himself, partaking of the nature of our frail humanity, is both a lamp and a reed, humble, but not to be broken, and the "light of the world." Compare the beautiful passage in Dante, where Cato directs Virgil to wash away the stains of the nether world from Dante's face, and to prepare him for the ascent of the purgatorial mount by girding him with a rush, the emblem of humility:
"Go, then, and see thou gird this one about
With a smooth rush, and that thou wash his face,
So that thou cleanse away all stain therefrom.
For 'twere not fitting that the eye o'ercast
By any mist should go before the first
Angel, who is of those of Paradise.
This little island, round about its base,
Below there, yonder, where the billow beats it,
Doth rushes bear upon its washy ooze.
No other plant that putteth forth the leaf,
Or that doth indurate, can there have life,
Because it yieldeth not unto the shocks.
There he begirt me as the other pleased;
O marvellous I for even as he culled
The humble plant, such it sprang up again
Suddenly there where he uprooted it."
Purg., i., 94-105, 138-187.
And in his name shall the Gentiles trust.
Then was brought unto him one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb: and he healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw.
And all the people were amazed, and said, Is not this the son of David?
But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils.
And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand:
And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand?
He is divided (ἐμερίσθη)
Lit., "he was divided." If he is casting himself out, there must have been a previous division.
And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? therefore they shall be your judges.
But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you.
Is come unto you (ἔφθασεν ἐφ' ὑμᾶς)
The verb is used in the simple sense to arrive at (2 Corinthians 10:14; Philippians 3:16), and sometimes to anticipate (1 Thessalonians 4:15). Here with a suggestion of the latter sense, which is also conveyed by the Rev., "come upon." It has come upon you before you expected it.
Or else how can one enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house.
Of a strong man (τοῦ ἰσχυροῦ)
Rev. rightly gives the force of the article, the strong man. Christ is not citing a general illustration, but is pointing to a specific enemy - Satan. How can I despoil Satan without first having conquered him?
The word originally means a vessel, and so mostly in the New Testament. See Mark 11:16; John 19:29. But also the entire equipment of a house, collectively: chattels, house-gear. Also the baggage of an army. Here in the sense of house-gear. Compare Luke 17:31; Acts 27:17, of the gear or tackling of the ship. Rev., lowered the gear.
He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.
Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.
And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.
The Holy Spirit (τοῦ πνεύματος τοῦ ἁγίου)
The Spirit - the holy. These words define more clearly the blasphemy against the Spirit, Matthew 12:31.
Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit.
O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.
A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.
Bringeth forth (ἐκβάλλει)
But the translation is feeble. The word means to throw or fling out. The good or evil things come forth out of the treasure of the heart (Matthew 12:34). "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." The issues of the heart are thrown out, as if under pressure of the abundance within.
But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.
A good rendering. The word is compounded of ἀ, not, and ἔργον, work. An idle word is a non-working word; an inoperative word. It has no legitimate work, no office, no business, but is morally useless and unprofitable.
For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.
Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee.
But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas:
A very strong and graphic expression, founded upon the familiar Hebrew representation of the relation of God's people to him under the figure of marriage. See Psalm 73:27; Isaiah 57:3 sqq.; Isaiah 62:5; Ezekiel 23:27. Hence idolatry and intercourse with Gentiles were described as adultery; and so here, of moral unfaithfulness to God. Compare James 4:4 :; Revelation 2:20 sqq. Thus Dante:
"Where Michael wrought
Vengeance upon the proud adultery."
Inf., vii., 12.
For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
The whale (τοῦ κήτους)
A general term for a sea-monster.
The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.
Shall rise up (ἀναστήσονται)
Rev., stand up. Come forward as witnesses. Compare Job 16:9, Sept.; Mark 14:57. There is no reference to rising from the dead. Similarly shall rise up, Matthew 12:42. Compare Matthew 11:11; Matthew 24:11.
A greater (πλεῖον)
Lit., something more. See on Matthew 12:6.
The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here.
When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none.
Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished.
Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.
While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him.
Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee.
But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren?
And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren!
Not the apostles only, but all who followed him in the character of learners. The Anglo-Saxon renders learning knights.
For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.
Vincent's Word Studies, by Marvin R. Vincent .
Text Courtesy of Internet Sacred Texts Archive.