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10 Neither be ye called Masters : for one is your Master, even Christ.
‘Masters,' leaders. Those who go before others; who claim, therefore, the right to direct and control others. This was also a title conferred on Jewish teachers.
Neither of these commands forbids us to give proper titles of civil office to men, or to render them the honour belonging to their station, Matt. xxii. 21. Rom. xii. 7. 1 Pet. ii. 17. They forbid the disciples of Jesus to seek or receive mere empty titles implying eminence, and authority to control the opinions and conduct of others, and claiming that others should acknowledge their superiority.
11 But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased ; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.
See note, Matt. xx. 26. 'He that shall humble himself, &c. God will exalt or honour him that is humble, and seeks a lowly place among men. That is true religion, and God will reward it.
13 | But wo unto you, scribes and pharisees, hypocrites ! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men : for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.
Wo unto you. You are guilty, and punishment will come upon you. He proceeds to state wherein they were guilty. This most eloquent, most appalling, and terrible of all discourses ever delivered to mortals, was pronounced in the temple, in the presence of multitudes. Never was there more faithful dealing, more terrible reproof, more profound knowledge of the workings of hypocrisy, or more skill in detecting the concealments of sin.
This was the last of Christ's public discourses; and it is a most solemn summary of all he ever had said, or had to say, of a wicked and hypocritical generation. Scribes and pharisees.' Note, Matt. iii. 7. “Hypocrites. Note, Matt. vi. 2. 'Ye shut up the kingdom of heaven.' Note, Matt. iii. 2. They shut it up by their doctrines. By teaching false doctrines respecting the Messiah, by binding the people to an observance of their traditions, by opposing Jesus, and attempting to convince the people that he was an impostor, they prevented many from becoming his fol. lowers. Luke says, xi. 52, they had taken away the key of knowledge; that is, they had taken away the right interpretation of the ancient prophecies respecting the Messiah, and thus had done all they could to prevent the people from receiving Jesus as the Redeemer.
14 Wo unto you, scribes and pharisees, hypocrites ! for ye
devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayer : therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.
• Devour widows' houses.' The word 'houses' is here used to denote property or possessions of any kind. 'Ye devour.' You take away, or get possession of, by improper arts and pretences. They induced widows and poor people to commit the management of their property to them, as guardians and executors, and took advantage of them, and defrauded them. They put on the appearance of great sanctity, and induced many weak women to give them much, under pretence of devoting it to religious purposes. Long prayers. Their prayers are said to have been often three hours in length. One rule among them, says Lightfoot, was to meditate an hour, then pray an hour, and then meditate another hour—all of which was included in their long prayers, or devotions. Damnation. The word here refers to future punishment. It does not always, however. It means, frequently, no more than condemnation, or the Divine disapprohation of a certain course of conduct; see 1 Cor. xi. 29. Rom. xiv. 23. For a pretence? For appearance or show ; in order that they might the better defraud poor people. They would not be condemned for making long prayers, but because they did it with an evil design.
15 Wo unto you, scribes and pharisees, hypocrites ! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.
Ye compass sea and land.' Ye take every means—spare no pains to gain proselytes. . Proselyte.' One that comes over from a foreign nation, religion, or sect to us. A convert. "Twofold more the child of hell.' 'That is, twice as bad. To be a child of hell was a Hebrew phrase, signifying to be deserving of hell, to be awfully wicked. Tne Jewish writers themselves say that the proselytes were reproaches to Israel,' and 'hindered the coming of the Messiah' by their great wickedness. The pharisees gained them either to swell their numbers, or to make gain by extorting their money under various pretences; and when they had accomplished that, they took no pains to instruct them or to restrain them, and they were consequently left to the full indulgence of their vices. 16 Wo unto you, ye blind guides, which say,
Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple he is
a debtor! 17 Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold?
Whosoever shall swear,' &c. See note, Matt. v. 33–37. ' The temple.' Note, Matt. xxi. 12. ' It is nothing.' It amounts to nothing. It is not binding. The gold of the temple.' Either the golden vessels in the temple, the candlestick, &c. or the gold with which the doors and other parts of the temple were covered, or the gold in the treasury. 'He is a debtor.' " He is bound to keep his oath. He is guilty if he violates it. To sanctify, is to make holy. The gold had no holiness but what it derived from the temple.
18 And whosoever shall swear by the altar, it is nothing; but whoso sweareth by the gift that is upon it, he is guilty. 19 Ye fools and blind : for whether is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifieth the gift ? 20 Whoso therefore shall swear by the altar, sweareth by it, and by all things thereon.
The altar of burnt-offerings, in the court of the priests. Note, Matt, xxi. 12. It was made of brass, about thirty feet in length and breadth, and fifteen feet in height, 2 Chron. iv. 1. On this altar were offered all the oblations of the temple in which blood was shed. “The gift that is upon it.' The gift or offering made to God, so called because it was devoted or given to him. The gist upon this altar was always beasts or birds. The altar, dedicated to God, gave all the value or holiness to the offering, and must therefore be the greatest, or of the most importance.
21 And whoso shall swear by the temple, sweareth by it, and by him that dwelleth therein.
Him that dwelleth therein. That is, God. The temple was his house, his dwelling. In the first, or Soloinon's temple, he dwelt between the cherubims, in the most holy place. He manifested himself there by a visible symbol, in the form of a cloud resting on the mercy-seat, 1 Kings viii. 10, 13. Psa. lxxx. 1.
22 And he that shall swear by heaven, sweareth by the throne of God, and by him that sitteth thereon.
The throne of God. Heaven is his throne, Matt. v. 34. It is so called as being the place where he sits in glory. Jesus says here, that al' who swear at all, whose oath is binding, do in fac. swear by God, or the oath is good for nothing. The essential thing in an oath is calling God to witness our sincerity. If a real oath is taken, therefore, God is appealed to. If not, it is foolish and wicked to swear by any thing else.
23 Wo unto you, scribes and pharisees, hypocrites ! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weighter matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith : these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
'Ye pay tithe.' A tenth part. The law required the Jews to devote a tenth part of all iheir property to the support of the Levites, Numb. xviii. 20—24. Another tenth part they paid for the service of the sanctuary, commonly in cattle or grain; but where they lived far from the place of worship, they changed it to money, Deut. xiv. 22–26. Besides these, there was to be every third year, a tenth part given to the poor, to be eaten at their own dwellings, Deut. xiv. 28, 29. So that nearly one third of the property of the Jews was devoted to religious services by law. Mint.' A garden herb, in the original so called from its agreeable flavour. `It was used to sprinkle the floors of their houses and synagogues, to produce a pleasant fragrance. • Anise.' Known commonly among us as dill. It has an aromatic smell, and is used by confectioners and perfumers. ‘Cummin.' A plant of the same genus, like fennel, and used for similar purposes. These were all herbs of little value. It was a question whether these should be tithed. The pharisees maintained, in their extraordinary strictness, that they ought. Our Saviour says that they were precise in doing small matters, which the law had not expressly commanded, while they omitted the greater things which it had commanded. "Judgment. Justice 10 others, as magistrates, neighbours, citizens. Giving to all their just dues. Mercy.'. Compassion and kindness to the poor and miserable. Faith.' Piety towards God; confidence in him. The word here means to give to God what is his due; as mercy and justice mean to do to men, in all circumstances, what is right. These ought ye to have done. Attention to even the smallest points of the law of God is proper, but it should not interfere with the higher and more important parts of that law.
24 Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.
• Which strain at a gnat,' &c. This is a proverb. It should have been, to strain out a gnat; and so it is printed in some of the earlier versions. The Greek means, to strain out by a cloth or sieve. “A gnat.' Not the winged'insect, as with us; but small animalculæ. The Jews were so delicate, that with a fine cloth they attempted to strain them out of wine. It is here used to denote a very small matter, as a camel is to denote a large object. You Jews take very great pains to avoid offence in very small matters, superstitiously observing the smallest points of the
law, while you are at no pains to avoid great sins hypocrisy deceit, oppression, and lust.
25 Wo unto you, scribes and pharisees, hypocrites ! for ye make clean the outside of the cup, and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.
The cup and the platter.' The drinking cup, and the dish containing food. The pharisees were diligent in observing all the washings and oblations required by their traditions. Full of extortion and excess." The meaning is, that though they took much pains to appear well, yet they obtained a living by extortion and wickedness. Their cups, neat as they appeared outwardly, were filled, not with the fruits of honest industry, but were extorted from the poor by wicked arts.
26 Thou blind pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.
Cleanse first,' &c. Let them be filled with the fruits of honest industry, and then the outside and the inside will be really clean. By this allusion to the cup and platter Christ taught them that it was necessary to cleanse the heart first, that the outward conduct might be really pure and holy.
27 Wo unto you, scribes and pharisees, hypocrites ! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. 28 Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.
Like unto whited sepulchres. For the construction of sepulcnres, see note, Matt. viii. 28. The law considered those persons unclean, who had touched any thing belonging to the dead, Numb. xix. 16. Sepulchres were therefore often whitewashed, that they might be distinctly seen. Thus' whited,' they appeared beautitul. But within they contained the bones and corrupting bodies of the dead. So the pharisees. Their outward conduct appeared well. Their hearts were full of hypocrisy, envy, pride, lust, and malice-fitly represented by the corruption of a whited tomb.
29 Wo unto you, scribes and pharisees, hypocrites ! because build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous,
Ye build the tombs of the prophets.' That is, ye build sepulchres or tombs over the prophets that had been slain. This