And he said to them, Is a candle brought to be put under a bushel, or under a bed? and not to be set on a candlestick?…
I. TEMPORARY OBSCURATION. The heathens in their mysteries had esoteric doctrines only made known to the initiated, and not designed to be revealed at any time to the uninitiated. The obscuration in their case was permanent. Our Lord, at a particular period of his ministry and for a special purpose, veiled his teaching in parable. But this obscuration was only meant to continue for a time. Our Lord guards against the notion that the doctrines thus propounded were designed for perpetual concealment, or for revelation only to a select few. Accordingly he asks whether at all (μήτι) a lamp (λύχνος) is brought into an apartment in order to be secreted or to be set on a lamp-stand. The lamp is not brought, is it, to be put under a bushel (rather, a peck-measure, equivalent to the Roman modius) or under a bed, and not to be set on a lamp-stand? The light in a dwelling may be concealed for some necessary purpose and for some short time, but this is contrary to its regular and proper use. So our Lord here implies that the light of his teaching may be partially concealed by parable, and confined for a time to a few immediate followers, but shall be manifested, and is meant to be manifested, all the more afterwards. The matter is expressed in two ways - first as a prediction, and secondly as a purpose. As a prediction, "There is nothing hid, that shall not be manifested;" or, more literally, There is not anything hid, that (or whatsoever) may not be revealed. As a purpose," Neither was anything kept secret, but that it should come abroad;" rather, Neither did anything become secret, but that it might come into open view. Like a lamp placed under some piece of domestic furniture for a short space and for some sufficient reason, the light of our Lord's doctrine was placed under the veil of parable or other obscuring medium for a time. But this position was never meant to be permanent - nay, the purpose was the very opposite; that is, to promote rather than prevent the future splendor and the further outshining of that bright and beautiful light.
II. RELATION OF LEARNING TO TEACHING. Our Lord's maxims never undergo a change of meaning, but their application necessarily varies with the context. After enunciating one of these maxims, viz. "If any man have ears to ear, let him hear," as a safeguard against possible error, and to prevent a not unlikely misconception, he proceeds to state another principle of his teaching, and another purpose to be accomplished. This principle was that the measure of attention given by the disciple to his Master would be rewarded with a proportionate measure of improvement; that in proportion to the desire of instruction and the use made of it by the disciple would be the benefit bestowed by the teacher. Again, the purpose was that the instructions thus received should be utilized for the advantage of others, so that the more the disciples profited as learners, so much the more they themselves would be able to impart to others, as preachers of the gospel and as teachers of the truth. Further, ulterior and higher attainments are promised to him who makes a right use of present attainments; while he "who has not," that is to say, who has not for ready use, and who does not make available his present or previous attainments, shall forfeit even what he has, or fancies he has. We thus learn that spiritual attainments and spiritual knowledge are never exactly at a standstill. They are either increasing by proper application and improvement, or decreasing by misuse and diminishing by neglect. - J.J.G.
Parallel VersesKJV: And he said unto them, Is a candle brought to be put under a bushel, or under a bed? and not to be set on a candlestick?