World Wide Study Bible
a Bible passage
13. Bid my brother divide Our Lord, when requested to undertake the office of dividing an inheritance, refuses to do so. Now as this tended to promote brotherly harmony, and as Christ’s office was, not only to reconcile men to God, but to bring them into a state of agreement with one another, what hindered him from settling the dispute between the two brothers? 265265 “On pourroit demander qui a empesche qu’il ne se soit entremis d’oster toute occasion de debat entre deux freres?” — “It might be asked, what hindered him from undertaking to remove all ground of quarrel between two brothers?” There appear to have been chiefly two reasons why he declined the office of a judge. First, as the Jews imagined that the Messiah would have an earthly kingdom, 266266 “Que le Messias regneroit a la facon des princes terriens;” — “that the Messiah would reign in the manner of earthly princes.” he wished to guard against doing any thing that might countenance this error. If they had seen him divide inheritances, the report of that proceeding would immediately have been circulated. Many would have been led to expect a carnal redemption, which they too ardently desired; and wicked men would have loudly declared, that he was effecting a revolution in the state, and overturning the Roman Empire. Nothing could be more appropriate, therefore, than this reply, by which all would be informed, that the kingdom of Christ is spiritual. Let us learn from this to regulate our conduct by prudence, and to undertake nothing which may admit of an unfavorable construction.
Secondly, our Lord intended to draw a distinction between the political kingdoms of this world and the government of his Church; for he had been appointed by the Father to be a Teacher, who should
divide asunder, by the sword of the word, the thoughts and feelings, and penetrate into the souls of men,
but was not a magistrate to divide inheritances This condemns the robbery of the Pope and his clergy, who, while they give themselves out to be pastors of the Church, have dared to usurp an earthly and secular jurisdiction, which is inconsistent with their office; for what is in itself lawful may be improper in certain persons.
There was also in my opinion, a third reason of great weight. Christ saw that this man was neglecting doctrine, and was looking only to his private concerns. This is too common a disease. Many who profess the Gospel do not scruple to make use of it as a false pretense for advancing their private interests, and to plead the authority of Christ as an apology for their gains. From the exhortations 267267 “En considerant la circonstance de l’exhortation qui est ici adioustee, il est aise a iuger que cestuy-ci estoit mene d’une telle affection perverse;” —”by considering the circumstance of the exhortation which is here added, it may easily be inferred that this man was under the influence of such a wicked disposition.” which is immediately added, we may readily draw this inference; for if that man had not availed himself of the Gospel as a pretext for his own emolument, Christ would not have taken occasion to give this warning against covetousness The context, therefore, makes it sufficiently evident, that this was a pretended disciple, whose mind was entirely occupied with lands or money.
It is highly absurd in the Anabaptists to infer from this reply, that no Christian man has a right to divide inheritances, to take a part in legal decisions, or to discharge any public office. Christ does not argue from the nature of the thing itself, but from his own calling. Having been appointed by the Father for a different purpose, he declares that he is not a judge, because he has received no such command. Let us hold by this rule, that every one keep within the limits of the calling which God has given him.