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THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW - Chapter 19 - Verse 21

Verse 21. If thou wilt be perfect. The word perfect means complete in all its parts—-finished, having no part wanting. Thus a watch is perfect; or complete, when it has all its proper wheels, and hands, and movements in order. Job was said to be perfect, Job 1:1; not that he was sinless, for he is afterwards reproved by God himself, Job 38:1-40:4 but because his piety was proportioned, and had a completeness of parts, he was a pious father, a pious magistrate, a pious neighbour, a pious citizen. His religion was not confined to one thing, but extended to all. Perfect means, sometimes, the filling up, or carrying out, or expression of a principle of action. Thus, 1 Jo 2:5, "Whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected." That is, the keeping of the commandments of God is the proper expression, carrying out, or completion, of the love of God. This is its meaning here. If thou wilt be perfect, complete, finished if thou wilt show the proper expression of this keeping of the commandments—go, etc. Make the obedience complete.

Mark says, (Mr 10:21) Jesus beholding him loved him. He was pleased with his amiableness, his correct character, his frankness, and ingenuousness. Jesus, as a man, was capable of all the emotions of most tender friendship. As a man, we may suppose that his disposition was tender and affectionate, mild and calm. Hence he loved with peculiar affection the disciple John, eminently endowed with these qualities. And hence he was pleased with the same traits in this young man. Still, with all this amiableness, there is reason to think he was not a Christian; and that the love of mere amiable qualities was all the affection that was ever bestowed on him by the Saviour.

One thing, adds Mark, thou lackest. There is one thing wanting. You are not complete. This done, you would show that your obedience lacked no essential part, but was complete, finished, proportionate, perfect.

Go and sell that thou hast, etc. The young man declared that he had kept the law. That law required, among other things, that he should love his neighbour as himself. It required also that he should love the Lord his God supremely; that is, more than all other objects. If he had that true love to God and man; if he loved his Maker and fellow-creatures more than he did his property, he would be willing to give up his wealth to the service of God and of man. Jesus commanded him to do this, therefore, to test his character, and to show him that he had not kept the law as he pretended; and thus to show him that he needed a better righteousness than his own.

Treasure in heaven. See Barnes "Mt 6:20".

 

Follow me. To follow Jesus, then meant to be a personal attendant on his ministry; to go about with him from place to place, as well as to imitate and obey him. Now it means,

1st. to obey his commandments 2nd. to imitate his example, and to live like him.

{n} "go and sell" Lu 12:33; 16:9; Ac 2:45; 4:34,35; 1 Ti 6:18,19

{o} "follow me" Joh 12:26

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