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Chapter 19

19:1 He departed [metēren]. Literally, to lift up, change something to another place. Transitive in the LXX and in a Cilician rock inscription. Intransitive in 13:53 and here, the only N.T. instances. Absence of [hoti] or [kai] after [kai egeneto], one of the clear Hebraisms in the N.T. (Robertson, Grammar, pp. 1042f.). This verse is a sort of formula in Matthew at the close of important groups of [logia] as in 7:28; 11:1; 13:53. The borders of Judea beyond Jordan [eis ta horia tēs Ioudaias peran tou Iordanou]. This is a curious expression. It apparently means that Jesus left Galilee to go to Judea by way of Perea as the Galileans often did to avoid Samaria. Luke (Lu 17:11) expressly says that he passed through Samaria and Galilee when he left Ephraim in Northern Judea (Joh 11:54). He was not afraid to pass through the edge of Galilee and down the Jordan Valley in Perea on this last journey to Jerusalem. McNeile is needlessly opposed to the trans-Jordanic or Perean aspect of this phase of Christ’s work.

19:3 Pharisees tempting him [Pharisaioi peirazontes auton]. They “could not ask a question of Jesus without sinister motives” (Bruce). See 4:1 for the word [peirazō]. For every cause [kata pasan aitian]. This clause is an allusion to the dispute between the two theological schools over the meaning of De 24:1. The school of Shammai took the strict and unpopular view of divorce for unchastity alone while the school of Hillel took the liberal and popular view of easy divorce for any passing whim if the husband saw a prettier woman (modern enough surely) or burnt his biscuits for breakfast. It was a pretty dilemma and meant to do Jesus harm with the people. There is no real trouble about the use of [kata] here in the sense of [propter] or because of (Robertson, Grammar, p. 509).

19:5 Shall cleave [kollēthēsetai]. First future passive, “shall be glued to,” the verb means. The twain shall become one flesh [esontai hoi duo eis sarka mian]. This use of [eis] after [eimi] is an imitation of the Hebrew, though a few examples occur in the older Greek and in the papyri. The frequency of it is due to the Hebrew and here the LXX is a direct translation of the Hebrew idiom.

19:6 What therefore God hath joined together [ho oun ho theos sunezeuxen]. Note “what,” not “whom.” The marriage relation God has made. “The creation of sex, and the high doctrine as to the cohesion it produces between man and woman, laid down in Gen., interdict separation” (Bruce). The word for “joined together” means “yoked together,” a common verb for marriage in ancient Greek. It is the timeless aorist indicative [sunezeuxen], true always. Bill [biblion]. A little [biblos] (see on 1:1), a scroll or document (papyrus or parchment). This was some protection to the divorced wife and a restriction on laxity.

19:8 For your hardness of heart [pros tēn sklērokardian h–mōn]. The word is apparently one of the few Biblical words (LXX and the N.T.). It is a heart dried up [sklēros], hard and tough. But from the beginning it hath not been so [ap’ archēs de ouk gegonen houtōs]. The present perfect active of [ginomai] to emphasize the permanence of the divine ideal. “The original ordinance has never been abrogated nor superseded, but continues in force” (Vincent). “How small the Pharisaic disputants must have felt in presence of such holy teaching, which soars above the partisan view of controversialists into the serene region of ideal, universal, eternal truth” (Bruce).

19:9 Except for fornication [parektos logou porneias]. This is the marginal reading in Westcott and Hort which also adds “maketh her an adulteress” [poiei autēn moicheuthēnai] and also these words: “and he that marrieth her when she is put away committeth adultery” [kai ho apolelumenēn gamēsas moichatai]. There seems to be a certain amount of assimilation in various manuscripts between this verse and the words in 5:32. But, whatever reading is accepted here, even the short one in Westcott and Hort [mē epi porneiāi], not for fornication), it is plain that Matthew represents Jesus in both places as allowing divorce for fornication as a general term [porneia] which is technically adultery [moicheia] from [moichaō or moicheuō]. Here, as in 5:31f., a group of scholars deny the genuineness of the exception given by Matthew alone. McNeile holds that “the addition of the saving clause is, in fact, opposed to the spirit of the whole context, and must have been made at a time when the practice of divorce for adultery had already grown up.” That in my opinion is gratuitous criticism which is unwilling to accept Matthew’s report because it disagrees with one’s views on the subject of divorce. He adds: “It cannot be supposed that Matthew wished to represent Jesus as siding with the school of Shammai.” Why not, if Shammai on this point agreed with Jesus? Those who deny Matthew’s report are those who are opposed to remarriage at all. Jesus by implication, as in 5:31, does allow remarriage of the innocent party, but not of the guilty one. Certainly Jesus has lifted the whole subject of marriage and divorce to a new level, far beyond the petty contentions of the schools of Hillel and Shammai.

19:10 The disciples say unto him [legousin autōi hoi mathētai]. “Christ’s doctrine on marriage not only separated Him [toto caelo] from Pharisaic opinions of all shades, but was too high even for the Twelve” (Bruce). The case [hē aitia]. The word may refer to the use in verse 3 “for every cause.” It may have a vague idea here = [res], condition. But the point clearly is that “it is not expedient to marry” [ou sumpherei gamēsai] if such a strict view is held. If the bond is so tight a man had best not commit matrimony. It is a bit unusual to have [anthrōpos] and [gunē] contrasted rather than [anēr] and [gunē].

19:11 But they to whom it is given [all’ hois dedotai]. A neat Greek idiom, dative case of relation and perfect passive indicative. The same idea is repeated at the close of verse 12. It is a voluntary renunciation of marriage for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. “Jesus recognizes the severity of the demand as going beyond the capacity of all but a select number.” It was a direct appeal to the spiritual intelligence of the disciples not to misconceive his meaning as certainly the monastic orders have done.

19:13 Rebuked them [epetimēsen autois]. No doubt people did often crowd around Jesus for a touch of his hand and his blessing. The disciples probably felt that they were doing Jesus a kindness. How little they understood children and Jesus. It is a tragedy to make children feel that they are in the way at home and at church. These men were the twelve apostles and yet had no vision of Christ’s love for little children. The new child world of today is due directly to Jesus.

19:14 Suffer [aphete]. “Leave them alone.” Second aorist active imperative. Forbid them not [mē kōluete]. “Stop hindering them.” The idiom of [] with the present imperative means just that. Of such [tōn toioutōn]. The childlike as in 18:3f.

19:16 What good thing [ti agathon]. Mark (Mr 10:17) has the adjective “good” with “Teacher.” May have [schō]. Ingressive aorist subjunctive, “may get,” “may acquire.”

19:17 Concerning that which is good [peri tou agathou]. He had asked Jesus in verse 16 “what good thing” he should do. He evidently had a light idea of the meaning of [agathos]. “This was only a teacher’s way of leading on a pupil” (Bruce). So Jesus explains that “One there is who is good,” one alone who is really good in the absolute sense.

19:20 What lack I yet? [ti eti husterō?] Here is a psychological paradox. He claims to have kept all these commandments and yet he was not satisfied. He had an uneasy conscience and Jesus called him to something that he did not have. He thought of goodness as quantitative (a series of acts) and not qualitative (of the nature of God). Did his question reveal proud complacency or pathetic despair? A bit of both most likely.

19:21 If thou wouldest be perfect [ei theleis teleios einai]. Condition of the first class, determined as fulfilled. Jesus assumes that the young man really desires to be perfect (a big adjective that, perfect as God is the goal, 5:48). That thou hast [sou ta huparchonta]. “Thy belongings.” The Greek neuter plural participle used like our English word “belongings.” It was a huge demand, for he was rich.

19:22 Went away sorrowful [apēlthen lupoumenos]. “Went away grieved.” He felt that Jesus had asked too much of him. He worshipped money more than God when put to the test. Does Jesus demand this same test of every one? Not unless he is in the grip of money. Different persons are in the power of different sins. One sin is enough to keep one away from Christ.

19:23 It is hard [duskolōs]. With difficulty. Adverb from [duskolos], hard to find food, fastidious, faultfinding, then difficult.

19:24 It is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye [eukopōteron estin kamēlon dia trēmatos rhaphidos eiselthein]. Jesus, of course, means by this comparison, whether an eastern proverb or not, to express the impossible. The efforts to explain it away are jejune like a ship’s cable, [kamilon] or [rhaphis] as a narrow gorge or gate of entrance for camels which recognized stooping, etc. All these are hopeless, for Jesus pointedly calls the thing “impossible” (verse 26). The Jews in the Babylonian Talmud did have a proverb that a man even in his dreams did not see an elephant pass through the eye of a needle (Vincent). The Koran speaks of the wicked finding the gates of heaven shut “till a camel shall pass through the eye of a needle.” But the Koran may have got this figure from the New Testament. The word for an ordinary needle is [rhaphis], but, Luke (Lu 18:25) employs [belonē], the medical term for the surgical needle not elsewhere in the N.T.

19:25 Were astonished [exeplēssonto]. Imperfect descriptive of their blank amazement. They were literally “struck out.”

19:26 Looking on them [emblepsas]. Jesus saw their amazement.

19:27 What then shall we have? [ti ara estai hēmin?] A pathetic question of hopeless lack of comprehension.

19:28 In the regeneration [en tēi palingenesiāi]. The new birth of the world is to be fulfilled when Jesus sits on his throne of glory. This word was used by the Stoics and the Pythagoreans. It is common also in the mystery religions (Angus, Mystery Religions and Christianity, pp. 95ff.). It is in the papyri also. We must put no fantastic ideas into the mouth of Jesus. But he did look for the final consummation of his kingdom. What is meant by the disciples also sitting on twelve thrones is not clear.

19:29 A hundredfold [hekatonplasiona]. But Westcott and Hort read [pollaplasiona], manifold. Eternal life is the real reward.

19:30 The last first and the first last [hoi eschatoi prōtoi kai hoi prōtoi eschatoi]. This paradoxical enigma is probably in the nature of a rebuke to Peter and refers to ranks in the kingdom. There are many other possible applications. The following parable illustrates it.

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