HIS SERVANTS' MINISTRY
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Matthew Chapter 12
BIBLE STUDY on the Gospel of Matthew
In this chapter, we see the conflict and final split of Jesus with the religious rulers.
Matthew is not trying to give a biography of the life of Jesus, nor is he recording the events in chronological order. He presents Christ as King . . . He was born a King and gave what we call the Sermon on the Mount, which was the system of moral conduct, standards or values of the Kingdom, the guidelines of the King. The King demonstrated that He had the power in the miracles He performed, then He sent out His apostles to teach and preach the Gospel of the Kingdom.. The reaction of the Jews was rejection! It was then that the King pronounced judgment on the cities.
Now there breaks out into the open a conflict between the Lord Jesus and the religious rulers of that day . . . especially the Pharisees. It seems that, they were friendly to Him at first, but in this chapter, they break with Him over the Sabbath day. Matthew presents Sabbath question in two places: on the outside in the field, and again on the inside in the synagogue.
Jesus Claims To Be Lord Of The Sabbath (Matthew 12:1-13)
Matthew 12:1 At that time Jesus went on the sabbath day through the corn; and his disciples were an hungred, and began to pluck the ears of corn, and to eat. (KJV)
At that time Jesus went on the sabbath day through the corn . . . The fields of small grain are called corn here. These were most often not fenced, for they were protected from live stock by the shepherds and herdsmen. The narrow roads of that day ran through the fields, and the bending heads of the ripening grain were within reach of those passing by. Since it was on a Sabbath day, it is very likely, that Christ and His apostles were going to some public place of worship, and the road passed through some grain fields, which were now ripe. Luke says, it was on the "second sabbath after the first" (Lk.6:1), meaning the first Sabbath after the second day of the Passover, when the sheaf of the first fruit was offered, and harvest was begun.
And his disciples were an hungered . . . it was morning before they had broken their fast.
And began to pluck the ears of corn, and to eat . . . Luke adds, "rubbing them in their hands". This was most likely barley, for it would have to be rubbed or rolled in the hands to remove the grain from the husk before they could eat it. They were content with this unprepared food, while the Jews on that day, ate the best of dainties.
Matthew 12:2 But when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto him, Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the sabbath day. (KJV)
But when the Pharisees saw it . . . the Lord or His apostles could not do anything without being watched by the Pharisees.
They said unto him . . . Luke says, "unto them" (Lk.6:2).
Behold thy disciples do that which it is not lawful to do upon the sabbath day. . . the charge of the Pharisees was false. The law did not forbid eating unprepared food on the Sabbath (Deut.23:24-25).
Matthew 12:3 But he said unto them, Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with him; (KJV)
But he said unto them, Have ye not read . . . to vindicate His apostles, He referred them to a similar case, recorded in the Old Testament, one of which they should have been acquainted. He speaks of the case of David. The law commanded that twelve loaves of bread should be laid on the table in the holy place in the tabernacle, to remain a week, and then to be eaten by the priests only. Their place was supplied then by fresh bread. This was called the shewbread (Lev.24:5-9). David, fleeing before Saul, weary and hungry, had come to Ahimelech the priest; had found only this bread; had asked for it and had eaten it, contrary to the letter of the law (1 Sam.21:1-7). Among the Jews, David had top authority. What he did, was not condemned. It proved that in cases of necessity the laws did not bind a man . . . so the necessity of the apostles justified them in doing on the Sabbath what would have been otherwise unlawful. If the Pharisees had not read the Scriptures, they were unfit either to be teachers, or someone who could condemn others, and must have been very lazy and negligent. IF they had read the Scriptures, they must have passed over the case of David, which Christ produces to vindicate His apostles.
What David did when he was an hungred . . . which was the same case of the apostles, for it also was the circumstance which could, and did excuse what was done by David and his men. The Jews admit, that in case of hunger the shewbread might be eaten, by those that were not priests; not only that which was removed from the table, but that which was upon it, which perfectly agrees with our Lord's argument, and justifies the apostles conduct; and this was not a single act of David's, but of others also.
And they that were with him . . . although in (1 Sam.6:1), David is said to be "alone, and no man with him"; yet this must be understood either comparatively, having but very few with him, and which were as none, considering his dignity; or that none came with him to Ahimelech, pretending to the priest he had a secret affair of the king's to transact; and therefore had left his servants in a certain place, and desires bread for himself and them. This happened during the days of David's rejection as king while Saul was ruling. Likewise, the Lord Jesus was being rejected as King; His Messianic claim had not been acknowledged. He takes care of His men, regardless of it being the Sabbath day, and David took care of his men although it meant breaking the Mosaic Law.
Matthew 12:4 How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests? (KJV)
How he entered into the house of God . . . not the temple, which was not then built; but the tabernacle, which was then at Nob, the city of the priests, and which probably adjoining Abimelech's house.
And did eat the showbread . . . that it was the shewbread, which is very clear from that text, and is rightly affirmed by Christ.
Which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests . . . (Lev.24:5,9) and so the Jews say that this bread "is forbidden to strangers". . . meaning to any but the priests. The Lord's argument stands, that if David, a good, holy man, and the men that were with him, who were men of religion and conscience, when in great distress through hunger, ate of the shewbread, which was unlawful for any to eat of but priests, and that the high priest himself agreed to it . . . then it could not be criminal in His apostles, when they were hungry, to pluck, rub, and eat a few ears of grain, which was lawful for any man to eat, even though it was on the Sabbath day . . and to further vindicate them, He adds . . .
Matthew 12:5 Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless? (KJV)
Or have ye not read in the law . . . (Num.28:9), by which law the priests had to perform, every Sabbath day, to offer up two lambs for a burnt offering; which included many things that a servant would do.
How that on the sabbath days, the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless . . . Profane the Sabbath . . . the Lord Jesus referred them to the conduct of the priests. On the Sabbath days the priests were engaged, as well as on other days, in killing animals for sacrifice (Num.28:9-10). Two lambs were killed on the Sabbath, in addition to the daily sacrifice. The priests were the ones killing them, and making fires to burn them in sacrifice; while even to to kindle a fire was expressly forbidden the Jews on the Sabbath (Ex.35:3). The priests were the ones who would kill, skin, prepare them for sacrifice, and burn them. The priests did that which, for other persons to do, would have been profaning the Sabbath. Yet they were blameless. They did what was necessary and commanded. This was done inside the temple, too, the place of holiness, where the law should be most strictly observed.
Matthew 12:6 But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple. (KJV)
But I say unto you . . . anytime Jesus says these words, an extremely difficult lesson follows. He speaks these words with authority . . . for He is the Lawgiver, the King and the Judge (GOD). He speaks, and shall explain the deep meaning of what He shall say next! A hard lesson follows! But I say unto you: (Mat.5:22,28,32,34.39,44; 11:22,24; 12:6,36; 17:12; 26:29; Mk.9:13; Lk.6:27; 10:12; Jn.6:36).
That in this place is one greater than the temple . . . He is referring to Himself, and to His own distinction and power as the Son of God, the Messiah, GOD!!! He is saying “I have power over the laws, since it was I who made them. I can grant to my apostles a exemption from the Jewish laws. Anything that I command or permit them to do, is therefore right.” This proves that He was Divine, because NO one but God can authorize men to do something contrary to the Divine laws. He states that God prefers acts of righteousness, instead of a precise observance of a ceremonial law (Mat.9:13). He says that "the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath" (Mk.2:27), meaning that the Sabbath was intended for the welfare of man; designed to promote his happiness, not to produce misery, by callous and heartless requirements.
Matthew 12:7 But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless. (KJV)
But if ye had known what this meaneth . . . Jesus says that mercy toward these hungering disciples was more acceptable to God than sacrifices at the altar; and that, IF the Pharisees had known the meaning of the Passage, they would not have condemned the guiltless.
I will have mercy, and not sacrifice . . . see Matthew 9:13.
Ye would not have condemned the guiltless . . . the Lord states that the Pharisees were ignorant of the Scriptures, in which they pretended to know it all. They took it upon themselves to be the interpreters of it, but did it with unkindness and no heart, condemning innocent persons, the apostles, for rubbing a few ears of grain, because they were hungry, which they would not have done, had they understood the Word. It is the will of God, that they (and us) show acts of love, kindness, compassion and mercy, instead of the strict observance of rites, rituals and ceremonies. The Pharisees showed no affection to human nature, and no compassion that one man should show to another.
Matthew 12:8 For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day. (KJV)
For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day . . . that He, Jesus, was Lord of the Sabbath . . . is a fact which His previous works had verified. When Jesus said that He was Master of the Sabbath, He claimed to be greater than the law and above the law. To the Pharisees, this was absolute heresy. They did not comprehend that Jesus, was the divine Son of God, and had created the Sabbath. The Creator is always greater than His Creation; therefore Jesus had the authority to overrule their traditions and regulations. It should be understood that, in this discussion, Jesus wanted mainly to expose the inconsistency of His assailants, and to assert His own divine authority. Since Christ is greater than the temple, and has ALL the perfections of the divine nature in Him, He is equal to the Father in power and glory; and as Mediator, has ALL power in Heaven and Earth given to Him . . . allowing that as He is Lord of ALL other things. He certainly is Lord of the Sabbath, and has all power of dispensing with it, and even of abolishing it if He so desires (Col.2:16-17).
About Healing on the Sabbath (Matthew 9-13) (Mk.3:1-6; Lk.6:6-11)
Matthew 12:9 And when he was departed thence, he went into their synagogue: (KJV)
And when he was departed thence . . . from the fields of grain, where the apostles had plucked the ears of corn.
He went into their synagogue . . . Mark says: “He entered again into the synagogue” (Mk.3:1), for He was not afraid of the Pharisees, who hunted for an advantage against Him; nor was He discouraged by them from doing good to men. He was willing to take another occasion of exposing their ignorance and malice.
Matthew 12:10 And, behold, there was a man which had his hand withered. And they asked him, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath days? that they might accuse him. (KJV)
And behold, there was a man which had his hand withered . . . this was probably a form of the palsy (Mat.4:24). The Pharisees had boldly declared that it was unlawful to pick the grain on the Sabbath. Now, they will come up with another question . . .
And they asked him, saying, is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day? . . . as they pointed to the man with the deformed hand, the Pharisees tried to trick Jesus by asking Him if it was legal to heal on the Sabbath. They were always trying to trick Him. Their Sabbath rules said that people could be helped only on the Sabbath IF their lives were in danger. Jesus healed on the Sabbath several times, and none of those healings were in response to emergencies. If Jesus had waited until another day, He would have been submitting to the Pharisees' authority, showing that their petty rules were equal to God's law. If He healed the man on the Sabbath, the Pharisees could claim that because Jesus broke their rules, His power was not from God. But Jesus made it clear how ridiculous and petty their rules were. God is a God of people, not rules. When someone needs help, we should help them.
Matthew 12:11 And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out? (KJV)
And he said unto them . . . the Lord knew they were trying to trap Him, but it will be they who are trapped.
What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out? . . . what it all boils down to is: it is lawful to do good. The argument in this case is drawn from the practice of His accusers, that it was lawful to relieve the sufferings of "one sheep" on the Sabbath. The Lord Jesus argues that it would be much more lawful to do the same for a man, which is simply common sense. And therefore it is the general conclusion that "it is lawful to do well on the Sabbath days." It is NOT an excusable violation of law, it is lawful. From the two disputes taken together, the people learned that works of religion, like those of the priests in the temple, and works of humanity, like feeding the hungry and healing the sick, were lawful on the Sabbath.
Matthew 12:12 How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days. (KJV)
How much then is a man better than a sheep? . . . when I read this about sheep, I think of the Passage of the sparrows (Lk. 12:6-7). Matthew 10:31 Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows. (KJV) . . . A man is much better than sparrows or a sheep, of more importance or value. If they would show an act of kindness to an animal on the Sabbath, how much more important it is to show the same kindness to one made in the image of God (Gen.1:26-27), one for whom the Saviour came to die, and who may be raised up to everlasting life. It is lawful to do well. This was commonly allowed by the Jews, and Jesus only showed them that the principle on which they acted in other things applied with more force to the case before Him, and that the act which He was about to perform was, by their own confession, lawful. There is no doubt in my mind that the Pharisees literally placed the man with the withered hand in His Presence to see what He would do. They found out!
Matthew 12:13 Then saith he to the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it forth; and it was restored whole, like as the other. (KJV)
Then saith he to the man . . . after the Lord looked around to examine their faces, and knowing what answer they would make to His arguments, knowing their anger and their inhumanity and cruelty. He was grieved for the hardness of their hearts, and their lack of mercy to their fellow man, and blindness of their minds, being ignorant of the Scriptures, and of the Sabbath. He says to the man who stood forth before Him . . .
Stretch forth thine hand . . . this is amazing! What a remarkable commandment to make to a man who had NO strength in his hand. This was something the man could not do . . BUT . . . being commanded to do so, did it! He did it, he obeyed and was healed. So too with the sinner. It is his duty to obey whatever God commands. Just as this man was given strength, strength shall be given to those who attempt to do His will.
And he stretched it forth . . . strength was given, and with all the ease imaginable, and was, not only able to do this, but to make use of it any way.
For it was restored whole like as the other . . . his other hand had never been damaged. This was an example of Christ's power. It was a proof of the lawfulness of healing on the Sabbath day, and it was a rebuke to the Pharisees for their cruelty and lack of mercy. This man was a symbol of the inability of men to do anything that is spiritually good, and of the power and effectiveness of divine grace to enable persons to stretch out their hands, and do things which they of themselves are not equal to. Luke 18:27 And he said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God. (KJV)
The Pharisees Plan The Death Of Jesus (Matthew 12:14-21) (Mk.3:7-12)
Matthew 12:14 Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him. (KJV)
Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him . . . Mark adds that the Herodians also took a part in this plot (Mk.3:6). They were most likely a political party, very close to Herod. The friends of Herod were opposed to Christ, and always ready to join any plot against His life. Without a doubt, they remembered the attempts of Herod the Great against Him when He was the Babe of Bethlehem (Mat. Ch 2), and they were stung with the memory of the escape of Jesus from his bloody hands. The attempt against Him now was pure envy.
Matthew 12:15 But when Jesus knew it, he withdrew himself from thence: and great multitudes followed him, and he healed them all; (KJV)
But when Jesus knew it, he withdrew himself from thence: and great multitudes followed him, and he healed them all . . . He knew the plan against His life. He knew that His hour (His death) was not yet come; and He therefore wanted security. By staying there, His Presence would only have irritated them further. Therefore, He acted the part of Christian carefulness, and withdrew (Mat.10:23).
Matthew 12:16 And charged them that they should not make him known: (KJV)
And charged them that they should not make him known . . . He at this time, wanted concealment. He wished to avoid their plots, and to save His life. Jesus did not want those He healed to tell others about His miracles because He did not want people to come to Him for the wrong reasons, because that would hinder His teaching and stir up false hopes about an earthly kingdom. But the news of Jesus' miracles spread, and many came to see for themselves (Mk.3:7-8).
Matthew 12:17 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, (KJV)
That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying . . . Matthew quotes a Passage from Isaiah to show the reason why he thus retired from his enemies, and sought concealment. Isaiah 41:1-4 Keep silence before me, O islands; and let the people renew their strength: let them come near; then let them speak: let us come near together to judgment. 2 Who raised up the righteous man from the east, called him to his foot, gave the nations before him, and made him rule over kings? he gave them as the dust to his sword, and as driven stubble to his bow. 3 He pursued them, and passed safely; even by the way that he had not gone with his feet. 4 Who hath wrought and done it, calling the generations from the beginning? I the LORD, the first, and with the last; I am he. (KJV) . . . The Jews, and the apostles too at first, expected that the Messiah would be a conqueror, and vindicate Himself from all His enemies. When they saw Him retiring before them and hunting a place to hide, instead of subduing His enemies by force, it was totally opposite to their previous ideas of the Messiah. Matthew, in this quotation, shows that their ideas of Him had been wrong. Instead of a warrior and an earthly conqueror, He was predicted under a totally different character.
Matthew 12:18 Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles. (KJV)
Behold, my servant whom I have chosen . . . Isaiah 42:1 Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. (KJV) . . . The Messiah, the Lord Jesus, is called a servant, from His taking on the form of a servant (Phil.2:7), or His being born in a humble environment, and also from His obedience in serving God (Heb.10:9).
My beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased . . . Matthew 3:17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. (KJV) . . . These are the words of God the Father speaking, concerning Christ as Mediator; who, as such, is God's servant, employed by Him, and obedient to Him, in the work of man's salvation. Jesus is God the Father’s beloved, in whom He is always well pleased; and who always was the object of His love.
I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles . . . the word judgment means, in the Hebrew, law, commands, etc., (Ps.19:9; 119:29-30). It means the law of God in general; the purpose, plan or judgment of God about human duty and conduct. Here it obviously means the Gospel Truth. Gentiles are all those who are not Jews. This prophecy was fulfilled by the multitudes coming to Jesus from Idumea and beyond Jordan, and Tyre and Sidon, as recorded by Mark 3:7-8.
Matthew 12:19 He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets. (KJV)
He shall not strive . . . the Lord Jesus shall not be as a warrior. He shall be meek and peaceful. He would not seek publicity and popularity, or compete in a backbiting way, as the disputers of this world do for the sake of victory only and popular praise. He silently put up with all abuses, and patiently bore every insult, and behaved peaceably, quietly, committing Himself and His cause to a righteous God.
Neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets . . . the meaning is, that Jesus did not hunt for worldly honor, popular approval and to be seen of men. He did nothing in a brazen way and never praised Himself.
Matthew 12:20 A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory. (KJV)
A bruised reed shall he not break . . . the reed is a symbol of feebleness, as well as change. See Matthew 11:7. A bruised, broken reed, is a symbol of the poor and oppressed. It means that Jesus would NOT oppress the feeble and poor as victorious warriors and conquerors did. It is also an expressive symbol of the soul, broken and contrite because of sin, weeping and mourning for transgression (Mat.5:4). The Lord will not be proud, unforgiving and cruel. He will heal, pardon it and give strength to the soul when a person repents.
And smoking flax shall he not quench . . . refers to the wick of a lamp when the oil is gone. It also is a symbol of feebleness and frailty. The Lord would not farther oppress it, and extinguish it. He would not be like the Jews, proud and overbearing, and trampling down the poor. It also expresses the decaying graces of the people of God. He will not treat them harshly or unkindly, but will cherish the feeble flame, minister the oil of grace, and kindle it into a blaze again if possible.
Till he send forth judgment unto victory . . . judgment here means Truth, the Truth of God, the Gospel of His precious Son. My friend, the Truth shall be victorious. It shall NOT be defeated. Although not such a conqueror as the Jews expected, He shall conquer. Although mild and retiring, yet His plan shall be victorious. He sends forth the Gospel into people’s hearts, accompanied with His mighty power, in the light and comfort of it, which informs their judgments, enlightens their understandings, bends their wills, raises their affections, sanctifies their souls, works efficiently in them, all under the influence of His Spirit and grace, to carry on of the work of grace in them to the end, and making them victorious over all their enemies, and more than conquerors, through Him that has loved them (Rom.8:37).
Matthew 12:21 And in his name shall the Gentiles trust. (KJV)
And in his name shall the Gentiles trust . . . Isaiah 41:1 Keep silence before me, O islands; and let the people renew their strength: let them come near; then let them speak: let us come near together to judgment. (KJV) . . . The islands or isles or nations (Isa.29:8), is a symbol of the Gentiles. The meaning is, that the Gospel should be preached to the Gentiles, and that they would receive it. Judgment is the law, the Gospel. This began to have its accomplishment in the Gentiles attending the ministry of Christ Jesus and is still being accomplished today. The Gospel was preached by Jesus and His apostles in the Gentile world, both upon the main land, and in the afar off islands, whereby multitudes have been given hope (Tit.1:2), and believe in Christ, as their Saviour and Redeemer. Thank You Jesus!
Casting out Demons (Matthew 12:22-30) (Mk.3:22-27; Lk.11:14-23)
Matthew 12:22 Then was brought unto him one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb: and he healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw. (KJV)
Then was brought unto him one possessed with a devil . . . this man was not only a demoniac, but also blind and dumb.
Blind and dumb . . .not from birth, or defect of nature, or by any sickness that had come upon him, but through the malice of Satan, by divine permission. A poor man from whom the indwelling demon took away both sight and hearing. Satan makes himself master of the heart, the eyes and the tongue of the sinner. Hearts are filled with the love of sin, instead of love of God; eyes are blinded that the sinner may not see his guilt, and the damnation of Hell that awaits; and the tongue Satan hinders from prayer and pleas, but encourages it to ever increasing freedom in blasphemies, lies, slanders, etc. NONE but Jesus can redeem a person from this threefold captivity. Jesus would bring a triple cure to this poor soul.
And he healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb, both spake and saw . . . this Jesus did, not by medicines, but by speaking a word, dispossessing Satan. And when the cause of blindness and dumbness were removed, the effects ceased, and the man was restored to his sight and speech, as before the devil had possessed him. He had his sight to see his Saviour, and a tongue to praise His Name. When men are turned from Satan to God, and are delivered from his bondage, they are brought into marvelous light, and given a capacity of showing forth the praises of God.
Matthew 12:23 And all the people were amazed, and said, Is not this the son of David? (KJV)
And all the people were amazed . . . because this man was not only a demoniac, but also blind and dumb. It was a triple cure.
And said, is not this the son of David?. . . by this question, the people expressed in a tone of triumph in their faith in Jesus. The cure was such an instance of divine power, and clear proof, that the Person who wrought it was much more than a man, and must be the Messiah. This is to be understood of most of the people, but not all, and only of the common people, for it had a different effect on the Pharisees. In these common people, it not only produced admiration, but assurance, faith and confession. "The son of David", is a character of the Messiah, well known among the Jews, because He was promised to David, was to be raised up of his seed, and to spring from his loins. Son of David: (Mat.9:27; 12:23; 15:22; 20:30-31; 21:9; 22:41-45; Mk. 10:47-48; 11:10; 12:35-37; Lk. 18:38-39; 20:41; Jn.7:42).
Matthew 12:24 But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils. (KJV)
But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils but by Beelzebub, the prince of devils . . . Beelzebub is a corruption of Baalzebub, the god of the fly, a god of the Ekronites (2 Ki.1:2). There are only two possible methods of evading the logical force of a miracle: #1. deny the reality of the miracle; and #2. to refer the result to some other cause than the power of God. The Pharisees, could not deny the reality of the miracle, and knowing that demons are under the command of Satan, took their only alternative, by insisting that the power was from Satan. The Pharisees had already accused Jesus of being empowered by the prince of demons (Mat.9:34). They were trying to discredit Him by using a disturbing argument. Refusing to believe that Jesus came from God, they said He was in league with Satan. Jesus easily exposed the foolishness of their argument
Matthew 12:25 And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: (KJV)
And Jesus knew their thoughts . . . He not only heard their blasphemous words, but was aware of their secret thoughts. He knew their vile malicious intentions and plans, to purposely reproach Him and set the people against Him. He knew their thoughts: (Ps.139:2; Pro.15:3; Isa.37:28; Eze.11:5; Jn.2:24-25).
And said unto them . . . the following parables, as Mark calls them (Mk.3:23), or proverbial expressions.
Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation . . . Our Lord's argument was that the welfare of any kingdom, city or family, depends on its agreement and harmony. Satan, like every other ruler, wishes to rule his empire in peace and security. BUT . . . how can Satan be in league with Christ, who opposes him in every way, opposes his authority, and is destroying his kingdom?
And every city, or house, divided against itself, shall not stand . . . a kingdom or a family, can prosper only by living in harmony. The different parts and members must cooperate and unite in promoting their affairs. When divided . . . one part undoes what the other one does, and it shall fall.
Matthew 12:26 And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand? (KJV)
And if Satan cast out Satan . . . we have the first argument of Jesus in reply. The explanation given by the Pharisees represented Satan as divided against himself; for he never achieved such a triumph over living men as when he took possession by evil spirits. And to rob himself of so great a victory would be to fight against his own kingdom. Jesus argues that not only Satan could not do this, but that he would not. Therefore their explanation which supposes Jesus to do it is absurd, meaning that if Satan, the same with Beelzebub, casts out the rest of the other devils, of which Satan is the prince and head . . .
He is divided against himself . . . meaning Satan acts contrary to his own interest, which is to keep possession of the bodies and souls of men.
How shall then his kingdom stand? . . . he will never be able to maintain his authority, and keep up the show of a government, as he does. These words suggest that there IS a form of government among the devils, who are united in one body, under one head; and whose unity and concord are their greatest strength, as in all other governments. Our Lord's argument, and which is His first, for others follow, is that the prince of this world (Jn.12:31; 14:30; 16:11) who is cunning and crafty, can never be thought to act any way as to oppose himself, be rebellious to his kingdom and government . . . for this would give so much credit to Christ, and serve greatly to strengthen His interest, as to assist Him in the casting out of devils. The maliciousness and offensiveness of such a suggestion should be crystal clear to all. If demons were cast out with the help of Satan, then Satan was fighting against his own servants. Simple common sense!
Matthew 12:27 And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? therefore they shall be your judges. (KJV)
And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils . . . there were Jewish exorcists who professed to cast out demons. Josephus tells of one named Eleazar. Jesus does not say whether they did or did not, but asks . . .
By whom do your children cast them out? . . . the Lord was not satisfied by showing them the absurdity of their argument. He showed them that it might as well be applied to them as to Him. He tells them: “Your disciples, taught by you, and encouraged by you, pretend to cast out devils. If your argument is true that a man who casts out devils must be in league with the devil, then your disciples have made a covenant with him also.” The words of Christ, here, do not prove that they had actually the power of casting out devils, but only that they claimed it, and practiced magic or sorcery (Acts 19:13).
Therefore they shall be your judges . . . ask them (your children) if Satan will cast out Satan: let even them be judges in this matter. And they shall convict you of partiality and stubbornness, for Jesus cast out devils by the Spirit of God, which they imputed to the assistance of Beelzebub; their children cast out devils, or pretended to do so, and it was by the help of Satan; and yet they ascribed it to Almighty God.
Matthew 12:28 But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you. (KJV)
But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God . . . I think the Lord Jesus has sufficiently proven by the two preceding arguments that He had NOT cast out demons by the power of Satan, now He takes the only alternative, that He did it by the Spirit of God.
Then the kingdom of God is come unto you . . . from this established fact, He draws the conclusion, "then the kingdom of God is come to you." The argument, fully stated, is this: If Jesus cast out demons by the Spirit of God, this proves the divine authority of ALL that He says; and therefore they should believe that the kingdom of God is at hand, just as He has preached to them. Satan has always assisted in the exact opposite of what Jesus said and did concerning His Kingdom and His interest, and what was useful to the cause and glory of Christ. All three Persons of the Triune God had a hand in the miracles of the Messiah; they were done by Christ, in His Father's Name, and by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Matthew 12:29 Or else how can one enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house. (KJV)
Or else, how can anyone enter into a strong man's house . . . at Jesus' birth, Satan's power and control were disrupted. In the wilderness Jesus overcame Satan's temptations, and at the Resurrection He defeated Satan's ultimate weapon, death. Eventually Satan will be constrained forever (Rev.20:10), and evil will no longer saturate the Earth as it does today. Jesus has complete power and authority over Satan and ALL of his forces. Here we have the last argument of the series. Satan is the strong man, his house is the body of the demoniac, and his goods is the evil spirit within the man. Jesus had entered Satan’s house and robbed him of his goods; and this proves that, instead of being in league with Satan, He had overpowered him.
And spoil his goods . . . as Jesus did, by casting devils out of the bodies or souls of men. It would be similar as if a man should enter into another man's house, who is very strong, with a plan to take or ruin his goods . . . this could not happen unless he has a power superior to his, and uses it.
Except he first bind the strong man, and then he will spoil his house . . . the "strong man" is the devil (Isa.49:24-25), who is powerful and mighty, as appears from his nature, being an angel, although a fallen one. He excels in strength, far above humans, and from his names, such as the roaring lion (1 Pet.5:8), the great red dragon (Rev.12:3), and leviathan (Isa.27:1). From the extent of Satan’s dominion, here called "his house"; which reaches to the whole band of devils and world of men; where he is called the prince of the power of the air (Eph.2:2), and the prince of this world (Jn.12:31; 14:30; 16:11), and the god of this world (2 Cor.4:4). And from his works and actions in and over the bodies and estates of men, by divine permission; which might be illustrated in the case of Job, and the demoniacs in the time of Christ; and in and over the souls of men . . . not only wicked men, but men under a pretense of religion, as the Antichrist and his followers, and sad but true, the saints themselves (Rom.7:13-25), and even over Adam in a state of innocence. But my friend, Christ Jesus, the Lord, is MUCH stronger than he is.
The Unpardonable Sin (Matthew 12:31-37) (Mk.3:28-30)
Matthew 12:30 He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad. (KJV)
He that is not with me, is against me . . . it is possible that this remark was intended for the bystanders. It was important for them (and us) to see that there was/is NO middle ground, NO straddling the fence! All those who were not with Jesus were with the Pharisees. My friend, today we have many Pharisees! Are you with Jesus?
And he that gathereth not with me, scattereth . . . Christ is the Good Shepherd (Jn.10). He gathers His sheep to Himself, and into His fold, by the external ministry of the Gospel, and the internal efficiency of His grace. Satan is the wolf, that catches and scatters the sheep, and seeks to kill and destroy them. There is an open war proclaimed and carried on between Christ and the devil. NO one should be neutral, in fact, that is impossible. IF a person is not with Jesus, not on His side, they are considered the enemy; and whosoever is not concerned by prayer or preaching the Gospel, or other means to gather souls to His fold (church), and to himself, is considered by Jesus as one who scatters them.
Matthew 12:31 Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. (KJV)
Wherefore I say unto you . . . when the Lord uses these words, a very hard lesson follows. But I say unto you: (Mat.5:22,28,32,34.39,44; 11:22,24; 12:6,36; 17:12; 26:29; Mk.9:13; Lk.6:27; 10:12; Jn.6:36).
All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men . . . (Mk.3:29). Blasphemy is brazenness, contempt, disrespect, impertinence, irreverence and sacrilege against Almighty God. Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit here condemned, is the evil speech just made by the Pharisees, in which a work performed by the Holy Spirit was attributed to Satan. This sin is most likely what John refers to when he says: 1 John 5:16 If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it. (KJV) . . . Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit was giving credit to the miracles of Jesus to Satanic influence and assistance, when they were done by the Spirit of God, of which the Pharisees themselves were aware. They say that the Jews have a saying, that God pardons all sins except lasciviousness (lust; immorality, exciting sexual desires), but this is not what Jesus says.
But the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, shall not be forgiven unto men . . . I do not think this particular sin is possible today because Jesus is no longer on Earth performing miracles through the Holy Spirit. But, I do think that there is an "unpardonable" sin that can be committed in today’s world. It is resisting the Holy Spirit by way of denying the deity of Christ, denying that He is God; resisting Him in the Gospel; knowingly and willfully committing sin . . . to name a few. It is a despiteful usage of the Spirit of grace, by opposing, contradicting and denying the things done by Him, the doctrines revealed by Him, going against a man's own light and conscience, out of willful and stubborn hatred and malice. Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, in today’s world, is resisting the Holy Spirit: (Acts 5:9; Rom.2:4; Eph.4:30; 1 Thes.5:19; Heb.10:26-29; 1 Jn.5:16).
Matthew 12:32 And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come. (KJV)
And whosoever speaketh a word against the son of man . . . the statement that all manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven of men, is NOT a declaration of universal pardon. Both here and in Mark 3:28-30, Jesus states the awful nature of the sin of which they had been guilty. That sin was the sin against the Holy Ghost. It consisted in charging Jesus with being in league with the devil, or accusing Him with working His miracles, not by the spirit or power of God, but by the help of the prince of the devils. It was a direct insult, disregard and evil speaking, against the Holy Spirit, the power by which Jesus worked His miracles. That this was what He meant by this sin, at that time, is clear from Mark. Mark 3:30 Because they said, He hath an unclean spirit. (KJV) . . . All other sins speaking against the Saviour Himself might be forgiven . . . but this sin was clearly against the Holy Spirit, alleging that the highest displays of God's mercy and power were the work of the devil; and therefore, were the highest depravity of mind. All manner of sin-shall be forgiven . . . but, ONLY on the condition that men repent and believe. IF they continue in sin, they CANNOT be forgiven (Mk.16:16; Rom.2:2-9). It is true, according to the Bible, that all manner of sin and blasphemy, with the one exception stated above, can be forgiven, among the multitude of sins forgiven through Christ.
It shall be forgiven him . . . through the grace of God, the Blood and mediation of Christ, under the application of the blessed Holy Spirit.
But whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost . . . in the sense before stated,
It shall not be forgiven him . . . NOT because the Holy Ghost is greater than Christ; or for want of effectiveness in the Blood of Christ; or because God cannot pardon it; but because such persons willfully, maliciously and stubbornly oppose the Spirit of God, without Whom there can be NO application of pardon made; because they remain hard of heart, and given over to a reprobate mind (Rom.1:28; 2 Tim.3:8), and die in impenitence and unbelief (Jn.3:18,36; 8:24; Heb.2:3; 1 Jn.5:10), for there is no forgiveness for unbelief (Mat.25:41-46; Lk.16:23; Rev.20:15).
Neither in this world, nor in the world to come . . . world is by most scholars rendered age. Whether "this age" and "the age to come" mean the Jewish age which then was, and the Christian age which was to come; or the age of time, and the coming age of eternity, is not clear. It does not matter, for this sin remains forever unforgiven; for the Christian age extends to the Day of Judgment, and beyond that there is no forgiveness. To be guilty of sin that never shall be forgiven, whether it be the sin that is unpardonable, or merely sin that is not pardoned, is to be eternally miserable. This surely is sufficient proof of everlasting punishment. You do NOT want unforgiveness, for that means an eternal Hell! http://www.judgmentcoming.org/j_c_hell_is_real.htm
Matthew 12:33 Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit. (KJV)
Either make the tree good, and his fruit good . . . by this brief parable, Jesus lays wide open the cause of the evil speech of the Pharisees, and prepares the way for a general statement in reference to all evil speech. As a tree is known by its fruit, so too, is a man known by his speech. That is, either good or bad.
Or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt . . . the fact declared in this verse is that a tree is known not by its leaves, or bark, or form, but by its fruit. We are to judge of man's being in union with Satan by what he does. If Jesus’ doctrines and works are the works of Satan, then He is corrupt, but if not, then their charge is blasphemy. On the other hand, if the works of the Pharisees are the works of the devil, and their doctrines are such as Satan would teach, it would prove that their charge on Jesus is blasphemy. In this indirect but powerful manner, Jesus advances to the charge against them.
For the tree is known by his fruit . . . a fig tree does not bear olives, and an olive tree does not bear figs. No one will say a tree is good and its fruit corrupt; or say that a tree is corrupt and its fruit good. What Jesus means is, either say I am a good man, and do good works, or that I am an evil man, and do evil works. But to say that I do good works, like the casting out of devils and yet say that I am an evil man, is as contradictory as to say that a corrupt tree brings forth good fruit. Either condemn these miracles as evil actions, done by union with Satan; or if you will allow them to be good ones, as you do, ascribe them to the Spirit of God.
Matthew 12:34 O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. (KJV)
O generation of vipers . . . Christ here applies the argument which He had suggested in the previous verse. They were wicked, like poisonous snakes, with a corrupt and evil nature. They could not be expected to speak good things, to speak favorably of Him and His works. Their evil words about Him and His works reveal the proper effects of their nature. The fullness of their heart produced the words of their lips. Everything starts in the heart. Vipers are poisonous snakes, not very long, about an inch thick, and have a flat head. The males have two large teeth, through which a most deadly poison is thrown into the wound made by the bite. Vipers are a symbol of malignity and mischief. These were very strong expressions to be used by the meek and lowly Jesus . . . but they were NOT the effect of anger and malice, like that which we would show. They were a declaration of the true character of the men with whom He was speaking, a declaration most justly deserved (Mat.3:7). Although they boasted of their being the seed of Abraham, yet their immediate ancestors were no other than vipers, deceitful, hurtful, poisonous creatures; and they were exactly like them: for although they made a show in the flesh, and outwardly appeared righteous, yet were inwardly full of the poison of wickedness, envy and malice. Their deadly and destructive words, their blasphemy against the Spirit, fully revealed their true nature.
How can ye, being evil, speak good things? . . . although not common, an evil man may at times speak good things, or which seem to be so . . . but this is NOT his every day speech. For the most part, his language, his speech betrays him . . . and since these men were by nature evil, and were destitute of the Spirit and grace of God (Rom.8:9), had no good thing in them, so, how could any good thing come out of them? And since they were so full of wickedness, spite and malice, it is no mystery that they belched out such blasphemous expressions concerning the miracles of Christ.
For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh . . . Jesus traces the cause of the blasphemy and of all evil speech. Here, He clearly states here that it is located in the heart, declaring that both the good things of the good man, and the evil things of the evil man, come out of the heart. The state of the heart determines the speech and action of the person, and these determine the state of the heart. The old proverb, "If the heart is right, all is right," is absolutely true. When the heart is right, all the conduct is just as it should be. Whenever there is an evil word spoken, an evil act performed, or a duty neglected, it is because the heart is not right at that point. Let us not deceive our own hearts (Jam.2:26), nor be deceived as to their state (Ps.19:12).
Matthew 12:35 A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. (KJV)
A good man, out of the good treasure of the heart . . . "A good man" is someone regenerated or renewed by the Spirit of God, a believer in Christ, a sincere lover of Him, and one that follows Him, where ever He goes. This person has the grace of God implanted in him. "The good treasure of the heart" is NOT what a person naturally possesses, but what is put into him by the superabundant grace of God, which he has received out of Christ's fullness (Jn.1:16; Rom.15:29; Eph.4:13; Col.1:19; 2:9). By this rich experience, he is blessed with, what may well be called a "treasure" . . . for as a treasure is a collection of riches, so too, this treasure consists of various graces, each of which is more precious than gold, silver and precious stones. Regeneration: (Jn.1:13; 3:3-8; 1 Cor.4:15; 6:11; 2 Cor.3:3; 5:17; Gal.4:29; 6:15; Eph.2:10; Tis.3:5; Jam.1:18; 1 Pet.1:3,23; 2 Pet.1:4; 1 Jn.2:29; 3:9; 4:7; 5:1,18)
Bringeth forth good things . . . a regenerated person (TRUE Christian), tells what has happened to him, speaks of what God has done for his soul; speaks many things about the glory of the grace of God; of the Person, offices, Blood, righteousness and fullness of Christ; and of the actions and influences of the Holy Spirit, which are pleasant, profitable, useful and edifying to the saints. A Christian MUST speak of Jesus!
And an evil man, out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things . . . the "evil man" is a man as he was born, destitute of the Holy Spirit, and having no standard of grace in him. The evil “treasure" is the corruption of his nature, the wickedness of his heart, producing swarms of lusts, and all kinds of sin that dwell there. Out of the heart proceeds evil and corrupt communications which not only defile himself but others as well. Not only vain words and unbeneficial talk, but blasphemies against God, Christ, the Holy Spirit and God’s people (Rev.13:5-6). All of which men shall be accountable for one day (Rev.20:11-15).
Matthew 12:36 But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. (KJV)
But I say unto you . . . Here is that phrase again. A hard lesson indeed. Christ closes this address to His spiteful and wicked hearers by a solemn declaration that for these things God would bring them into judgment. Those who had spoken so maliciously against Him, would not escape.
That every idle word that a man shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment . . . Idle word literally means any vain, thoughtless, useless words, that accomplish no good. Here it clearly means wicked and injurious, false and malicious words, like those that they had spoken. For any such words they shall "give account" (Ecc.12:14; Eph.5:4,6. Jude 1:1:15).
Matthew 12:37 For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned. (KJV)
For by thy words thou shalt be justified . . . meaning that words shall reveal the TRUE position of the heart; by the words that come from the lips, the heart shall be known, just as the tree is known by its fruit. A person CANNOT hide the true heart. If a person is true, good, uncorrupted, useful and pious, they will prove that their heart is right. If a person is phony, envious, spiteful, wicked and immoral, they will prove that the heart is wrong, and will therefore be among the ones headed for condemnation (Jn.3:18). This does not mean that words will be the only thing that will condemn man, but my friend, they will be an all important part of the things for which he shall be condemned (Jam.3:2-12; Pro.13:3). The Lord's meaning is, that not only works and actions, but words of all sorts, will come into account in the Day of Judgment, and will be evidence for or against a person, to acquit or condemn him.
And by thy words thou shalt be condemned . . . according to this, the sentence of justification or of condemnation. As words appear to be evidence for or against a person’s being in a state of grace and righteousness . . . for example, a man that has spoken for Christ, and has freely confessed that all his hope of justification before God, and acceptance with Him, is solely upon the account of the righteousness of Christ being imputed to him. Such a person shall be declared justified (Rom.5:1) according to his own words.
The Scribes And Pharisees Demand A Sign (Matthew 12:38-42)
Matthew 12:38 Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee. (KJV)
Then certain of the Scribes and Pharisees answered . . . (Lk.11:16,29-32). A sign usually means a miracle, a sign that God was with the person, or had sent him (Isa.7:11). Luke tells us that this was done tempting him, trying Him, doubting if He had the power to do it. If these persons had been with Him any time at all, they would have had sufficient proof that He was What and Who He said He was. These “certain” ones, might have just recently come. John 20:29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. (KJV)
Pharisees: (Mat.5:20; 9:11; 12:14; 15:1; 22:34; 23:2; 27:62).
Sadducees: (Mat.3:7-8; 16:6,11; 22:23; Mk. 12:18; Lk. 20:27: Acts 4:1; 5:17; 23:6-8).
Tempting Him: (Mat.19:3; 22:18,35; Mk.10:2; 12:15; Lk.10:25; 11:16,53-54; 20:23; Jn.8:6).
A sign: (Mat.12:38-39; Mk.8:11-13; Lk.11;16,29-30; 12:54-56; Jn.6:30-31; 1 Cor.1:22).
Saying, Master, We would see a sign from thee . . . meaning a sign from Heaven, as they wanted another time (Mat.16:1; Lk.11:16). They had seen a sign from Him on Earth, when He cured the man with a withered hand, and too, in dispossessing the devil out of the man, that was blind and dumb; but these they considered as signs from Hell, and done by union with the devil. They demanded instead, a sign from Heaven, where they thought Satan had not the power that he had on Earth. It seems that what they wanted was something similar to when they were on Mount Sinai, at the giving of the law, when there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud, and the voice of a trumpet, and some visible appearances of the divine majesty (Ex.19:16). They implied that if something of this kind was done, and if there were any visible and miraculous appearance in the Heavens, produced by Jesus, they would then believe Him to be the Prophet that Moses spoke of (Deut.18:18), and the true Messiah . . . but if not, they would give absolutely no credit to Him. The Jews, in Christ's time, expected signs and wonders to be wrought by the Messiah, in proof of His being so, but now that He is there, they reject Him. Thunders and lightnings: (Ex.9:23,28-29; 20:18; 1 Sam.12:17-18; Job 37:1-5; Ps. 18:11-14; 29:3-11; 50:3; 77:18; 97:4; Heb.12:18-19; Rev.4:5; 11:19).
Matthew 12:39 But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: (KJV)
But he answered and said unto them . . . the Lord Jesus was very outright in His answering the Pharisees.
An evil and adulterous generation . . . the relationship of the Jews to God was often represented as a marriage contract, with God as the Husband, and the Jewish people as the wife (Isa.57:3; Hos.3:1; Eze.16:15), therefore their apostasy and idolatry are often represented as adultery. This is probably the meaning here. The Jews were sinful and unfaithful to the covenant or to the commandments of God (Deut.5:1-22). They were an apostate and corrupt people, and literally an adulterous people. Idolatry: (Ex.32:1-11; 1 Ki.12:28; 14:23; 18:26-28; 2 Ki.17:16; 21:3-7; 23:4,12; Isa.8:19; 42:17; 57:5-8; 65:11; Jer.3:16; 19:13; Eze.8:14-16; 14:1-8; Hos.4:13-14; 8:5-6; 10:5; Amos 5:21-27).
Earlier than the Babylonian exile, the Hebrew prophets taught that Yahweh was not only superior to all other gods, but reigned alone as God, other deities being nothing (Lev.19:4; Isa.2,18-20; 19:1-3; 31:7; 44:9-20). The prophets also taught that the temple, the ark and the sacrifices were not necessary for true spiritual worship (Jer.3:16; Amos 5:21-25), see: John 4:24. These prophecies produced a strong reaction against the previous widely accepted idol worship, although later indications of the worship of idols is not rare (Eze.14:1-8; Isa.42:17). Beware my friend, it is very easy to “set up idols in your heart” (Eze.14:3).
Seeketh after a sign . . . the Jews required a sign of Christ, time and time again. They were not content with just one, they wanted more, more, more. Luke 16:31 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead. (KJV)
There shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas . . . this does not mean that no miracles would afterwards be done amongst them by Jesus; for after this, many wondrous works were done by Him . . . but NO such signs would be given as they wanted. He would give one that should be satisfactory evidence to them that He was from God, like the miraculous preservation of Jonah was to the Ninevites, to which he was divinely commissioned. Just as Jonah was preserved three days by the power of God, and then restored alive, so too, would Jesus be raised from the dead after three days. Because of Jonah, the Ninevites believed and repented. So too, on the ground of Jesus’ resurrection, the men of an adulterous and wicked generation should repent, and believe that He was from God.
Matthew 12:40 For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. (KJV)
For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly . . . The Lord firmly refused to grant them a sign but directed them back to an incident in the Old Testament, the account of the prophet Jonah. God could make a man live for three days and three nights inside a fish; the question is: Did God do that? Is that what the record says? Jonah was apparently raised from the dead when he was in that whale. God brought him out of darkness and death into light and life. Jonah's experience was typical of the coming interment and resurrection of Jesus Christ. See Jonah 1:17. http://www.godcannotlie.org/jonah_ch1.htm
So shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth . . . Jesus means Himself. There is no reason to doubt this. His being laid in a tomb, dug out of a rock, is sufficient to answer, "the heart of the earth". Some difficulty arises about the time of His continuing there.
Matthew 12:41 The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here. (KJV)
The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment . . . the Ninevites received Jonah and his preaching after his miraculous deliverance from the big fish, and they repented. The acts of Israel, as a nation, place her in a much worse position because she did not receive her Messiah and did not repent. Referring either to the custom and practice of witnesses, who rise up from their seats and stand, when they give in their testimonies in a court, or else, referring to the time of the general resurrection from the dead, at the last day, when these men shall rise from the dead, and stand in judgment. Here Jesus is clearly saying that His resurrection will prove that He is the Messiah. Three days after His death, Jesus will come back to life, just as Jonah was given a new chance at life after three days in the fish.
With this generation . . . shall rise when the Ninevites do, and stand before the judgment seat together.
And shall condemn them . . . and be against them, not as judges of them, but by their example and practices, showing as an aggravation of the guilt and condemnation of the Jews, just as the lifestyles of the saints condemn the wicked now, and will do so in the hereafter.
Because they repented at the preaching of Jonas . . . a single prophet, a stranger indeed to Nineveh, who only preached, and brought no miracle among them, and his stay with them was very short, whereas the men of this generation had the Son of God "sent" to them, had the ministry of John the Baptist and Jesus' apostles and a great variety of miracles done among them . . . but, through it all, the Jews remained shameless and unremorseful. The worst aggravation of their impenitence, and what made it the more astounding was, that there was so great a Person was in the very midst of them, and they could not se Him! Do you “SEE” Jesus?
And behold, a greater than Jonas is here . . . Jesus means Himself, for He was greater in Person, in office, in doctrine, in miracles, in life, in obedience, in sufferings, in death, and in the resurrection from the dead. The Ninevites, although a Heathen people, had just forty days in which to repent, after Jonah’s preaching. They repented immediately (Jonah 3:4). Jonah’s brief message: “Repent, or forty days from now Nineveh will be destroyed.” In contrast, the Jews, although God's professing people, and having forty days, from Christ's resurrection (Acts 1:3), did not repent!
Matthew 12:42 The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here. (KJV)
The queen of the south . . . the queen of Sheba (2 Chron.9:1; 1 Ki.10:1-10; Isa.60:6). Sheba was probably a city of Arabia, near the shores of the Red Sea, situated south of Judea. The queen came from a remote country to hear the wisdom of a mere man, although a gifted one, and was thrilled at what she saw and heard. BUT . . . the Jews, when a Greater than Solomon had come to them, despised and rejected Him, and insulted and slandered Him.
Shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it . . . the meaning here too is that she shall rise from the dead, and stand as a witness against that generation at the day of judgment, and by her example and practices, which will then be produced, condemn the Jews, or worsen their condemnation.
For she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon . . . from the uttermost parts of the earth means from the most distant parts of the world then known. See a similar expression in Deut.28:49. The knowledge of geography was very limited, but the place was by no means in the extreme parts of the Earth. It simply means that she came from a remote country; and that she would condemn that generation, because she came a great distance to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and the Jews of that age would not listen to the wisdom of One Who was much greater than Solomon, right in their midst!
And behold, a greater than Solomon is here . . . the Lord Jesus was infinitely greater than Solomon was, in everything! Solomon was just a creature, while the Lord Jesus was the Creator! The Jews did not need to travel far to come and see and hear Jesus, yet they rejected Him as the Messiah, they blasphemed His miracles, and despised His ministry, even though it was concerned things of a spiritual nature and was for the eternal welfare of immortal souls.
Worthless restoration (Matthew 12:43-50)
Matthew 12:43 When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. (KJV)
When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man . . . this seems to imply that unclean spirits sometimes went out of men voluntarily. When they did, they wandered through "dry places," that is, through places such as deserts with no water are to living men, seeking rest, and finding none. A more realistic description of utter wretchedness would be hard to imagine. "The unclean" spirit” means Satan, the devil; who by the Jews, is called as here "the unclean spirit"; and that, because he is by willful sin become that way, although he was not like that when God created him. He is the cause of uncleanness in men, and he delights in unclean persons, places and things. I do not think that his "going out of a man" is his being dispossessed of the bodies of men; nor of him being ejected, and his going by force, through the power of divine grace, out of the souls of men . . . but either his leaving the Jews for a while, in some way, while Christ and the Gospel continued among them; and of his going out of the Scribes and Pharisees by putting on another form, appearing as an angel of light (2 Cor.11:14), under the pretense of holiness and righteousness. He may be said to go out of men, when any outward reformation is made in them; and they take up a profession of religion, although they are destitute of the grace of God . . . in other words, they were never saved in the first place, because once a person is truly saved, they are saved for ever. . . . . . http://www.hisservants.org/once_saved,_always_saved_h_s.htm
He walketh through dry places . . . if a man has an unclean spirit, and the unclean spirit leaves him, the man thinks he is all cleaned up. But, what happens? The text is thought to be well explained by Peter. 2 Peter 2:20 For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. (KJV) . . . The Lord here compares the Jews to a man out of whom the unclean spirit was gone. The devil is called the unclean spirit, both in regard of his own impure nature, and because his work is to tempt men to sin, which is spiritual filthiness. The Jews were a people holy to the Lord, a people distinguished from pagans by a visible lifestyle, so the devil in a great measure had left them. The devil is not a calm, quiet spirit. He has no rest if he is not causing some kind of trouble to men. Dry places are for the most part, places less inhabited, because of lack of water. The devil cannot be at rest where he can do no mischief to men.
Seeking rest, and findeth none . . . the devil’s rest, is somewhere that he can cause the most amount of trouble to God’s children. He stirs up corruption, tempts to sin and discourages the exercise of grace in the saints. But, in dry places, he is not able to do as much mischief as he would like, and so cannot find the rest that he seeks, nor can he satisfy his envious, spiteful and malicious nature. That unclean spirits walk in, and haunt desert and desolate places, may possibly refer to the saints, or Gentiles.
Matthew 12:44 Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. (KJV)
Then he said, I will return into my house . . . the house is the man's body which he had left; it is called a house because it allowed the evil spirit some relief from the misery of his wanderings. That the house was empty, swept and garnished, means that the man's body was well prepared for the demon's return. The devil leaves no one, except that he will try to come into them again . . . and he nearly always succeeds where Christ has not preoccupied the heart and mind of the soul of the sinner. Unless a sinner is sincere when he turns to Christ Jesus, the Holy Spirit will not make His home there. The Father will NOT send His Spirit to anyone who is not honest and truthful about their repentance and acceptance of Jesus. The souls of all people are possessed by either Satan OR God! 1 John 3:10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. (KJV) 1 John 4:4 Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. (KJV) Romans 8:9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. (KJV) . . . IF a person does not have the Spirit of Christ abiding within them, they are a child of the devil and have the devil abiding within them. IF the soul is EMPTY of Christ . . . it is FULL of Satan.
From whence I came out . . . Satan was disturbed by the Gospel sent among them, and so leaves “his house.’ If the devil leaves a person, (his house), he will try to “go into” that house again when he finds no rest in “dry places.” Among whom Satan might go, seeking rest and satisfaction would be those who had gone back to their idolatries and other wickedness.
And when he is come, he findeth it empty . . . when a person professes faith in Christ, they attempt outward restoration by sweeping and a garnishing, but all the while the soul is empty of Christ. It may be swept from the filth of flagrant and wicked sins, and garnished with the paint of some ridiculous religion, and habits of moral virtue; but this will NOT keep the devil out. Again, IF the soul is EMPTY of Christ . . . it is FULL of Satan.
Swept . . . not with the Spirit of Grace reproving the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment (Jn.16:8), but with the sweeping of outward improvement.
And garnished . . . not with internal grace, which makes saints glorious within; but with secret lusts and corruptions (2 Ki.17:9; Job 24:16; Ps.19:12; 90:8). Proverbs 9:17 Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant. (KJV) . . . You may think no one is watching and no one knows, but you are wrong! You can hide NOTHING from God! (Job 21:27; Eze.11:5). And garnished means it is an agreeable habitation for the unclean spirit, with some show of morality, a little negative holiness, or abstinence from outward acts of sin, and observance of some external rites and rituals, and a some hypocritical performances of fasting and prayer . . . these Satan can tolerate, as long as the heart is empty of spiritual grace.
Matthew 12:45 Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation. (KJV)
Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits . . . seven, meaning many. This implies that Satan makes that man much worse than before. So, the Lord Jesus says, it shall be with these Jews. God gave them His laws,but to God’s law, the scribes and Pharisees altered many things, like people do today, so it was like a house swept and garnished. God sent His Son to dwell amongst them, but they rejected Him; so the house was empty, although swept and garnished. The devil will come again, and they will be much, much worse than before.
More wicked than himself . . . that the seven other spirits were more wicked than the first, is proof that some demons are worse than others. That he went and got them, is proof that evil spirits do have communications among themselves. And that the man was then worse than at first, shows that the greater the number and the wickedness of the demons within a man, the worse his condition. To apply this parable, only one point of comparison is made, and we will save ourselves much useless labor if we are content with this. Consider these words: "The last state of that man is worse than the first: even so shall it be with this wicked generation" meaning the last state of this generation will be worse than the first. This refers to the continually increasing wickedness of the Jews, which concluded in the dreadful scenes preceding the destruction of Jerusalem.
And they enter in and dwell there . . . although the devils were there before, now they exert and show themselves, and these people seem to be under the control of them, for when leaving their outward religion and holiness, they return like the dog to the vomit, and the swine to the wallowing in the mire. 2 Peter 2:22 But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire. (KJV) . . . False teachers have always caused great turmoil in the church., and they are very active today! First John gives us several tests for TRUE believers. #1. Willing to confess sin (1 John 1:5; 2:22) #2. Lifestyle obedience. (1 John 2:3-6) #3. Lifestyle love (1 John 2:7-11) #4. Victory over evil (1 John 2:12-14) #5. Forsaking the world. (1 John 2:15-17). #6. Perseverance. (1 John 2:19). #7. Believing the Gospel. (1 John 2:20-24).
And the last state of that man is worse than the first . . . the man becomes more wicked than ever. Such apostates are more excessive in their sin, and are rarely or ever recovered by repentance, and their last end is eternal damnation.
Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation . . . this parable correctly suited the Scribes and Pharisees, and the men of that generation, from whom the unclean spirit might be said to depart through the doctrine, and miracles of Christ, to go into the Gentile world . . . but being followed there with the preaching of the Gospel by the apostles, returns to the Jews, and fills them with much more blindness, blasphemy and malice than ever, which brought in their utter ruin and destruction. My friend, what about the immoral wickedness going on in the world around us? It keeps getting worse and worse with each passing day. This too is a wicked generation. BEWARE!!!
Jesus’ Mother and Brothers (Matthew 12:46-50) (Mk.3:21, 31-35; Lk.8:19:21)
Matthew 12:46 While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him. (KJV)
While he yet talked to the people . . . about these subjects which concerned the Scribes and Pharisees, and which would not fail to bring upon Him their utter resentment and ill will.
Behold his mother and his brethren . . . His brethren . . . there has been much disagreement about WHO the persons are meant here; some say that they were children of Mary His mother, others that they were the children of Mary the wife of Cleophas or Alpheus, His cousins, and called brethren according to the customs of the Jews. To me, the fact that these persons called his brothers came with Mary, establishes a strong presumption that they were sons of Mary and Joseph, and literally half brothers of Jesus. 1 Cor 14:33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. (KJV) . . . I believe that IF these “brethren” were sons of someone other than Mary, it would be stated here. And this is not the only place His brethren are mentioned. Jesus’ brothers: (Mat.12:46-48; 13:55-56; Mk.3:31; 6:3; Lk.8:19-21; Jn.2:12; 7:3,5,10; Acts 1:14; 1 Cor.9:5; Gal.1:19).
Stood without . . . I think that the Lord was in a house, not in a synagogue as some say, and His mother and brethren stood outside. Why they did not go in is not revealed to us.
Desiring to speak with him . . . not to interrupt Him in His work, or to distract Him from it, nor from a principle of ambition and vain glory, to show that they were related to Him, and that He was at their beck and call; but instead were concerned about the danger He exposed Himself to, by the lack of restrictions He took with the Pharisees in His discourses, and possibly to notify Him of some conspiracies formed against Him. We do not know why they wanted to speak to Jesus. We can only guess. It is not necessary for us to know, or it would be stated here.
Matthew 12:47 Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee. (KJV)
Then one said unto him . . . whoever brought the message to the Lord, must have assumed that the business which they had for Him was more urgent than His business with the people, and that He should pay attention.
Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee . . . whether this message was carried at the request of the mother and brethren of Christ, and delivered in a simple manner, and with an honest intention; or whether it was done in a bossy way, with wanting to interrupt Him, and try Him to see whether He would prefer His natural relations, and their company, to the spiritual work in which He was engaged, in doing good to the souls of men, is not certain. The latter cannot be ruled out, from the following words, and conduct of Christ.
Matthew 12:48 But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? (KJV)
But he answered and said unto him that told him . . . the tone of His answer clearly revealed to the spectators that He would allow NO interference with His work on the matter of earthly relationships. And I think it also clearly reveals that the made-up subservience (inferior capacity) of Jesus to His mother, which is the ground of the worship of Mary, is most emphatically rejected here by Jesus Himself. To all who now call on the "Mother of God," as Mary is so blasphemously called, Jesus answers, as He did to the Jews, Who is my mother? http://www.hisservants.org/catholics_h_s.htm
Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? . . . these questions are asked, not as if He Himself was ignorant who His mother or His brethren were; or suggesting He had none; or denying that they were related to Him; or as casting any unimportance upon them; or as intending to teach people disrespect for parents and family members . . . BUT that He was displeased with the one for interrupting Him in His work. He means to let them know that He preferred the business of His heavenly Father (Lk.2:49), to any of He could have with His earthly relations. He goes on to point out just WHO were really His relations in a spiritual sense.
Matthew 12:49 And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! (KJV)
And he stretched forth his hand towards his disciples . . . not only the twelve, but all others present, who truly believed in Him, both men and women, He pointed out these as His spiritual family.
And said, Behold my mother, and my brethren . . . if we truly love Him and hold Him dear and close to our hearts, we are the children of God by adopting grace, and so His family, and were as dear to Him as His earthly mother and brethren.
Matthew 12:50 For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother. (KJV)
For whosoever shall do the will of my Father . . . this is not to be understood of perfect obedience to the will of God, for there is NO one who can accomplish this. NO one can ever be in such a spiritual relation to Christ, except there is trust and obedience to the will of God, as revealed in the Gospel; which is to believe God (1 Jn.5:10-12), accept Christ, and have everlasting life. John 6:40 And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day. (KJV) . . . This is the will of Jesus’ Father.
Which is in heaven . . . good news, terrific news, from Heaven to sinners on Earth, eternal life in Heaven. Luke 8:21 And he answered and said unto them, My mother and my brethren are these which hear the word of God, and do it. (KJV)
The same is my brother, and sister, and mother . . . the strongest relationship today is the relationship between Christ and a believer. Dear one, if you are a child of God and you have unsaved family members, you are closer to Christ Jesus than you are to your own family. You are more closely related to other believers than you are to unsaved members of your family.
In the course of the disputes, the following facts are proof of the claims of Jesus are brought into prominence.
#1. His conduct was above reproach. His enemies were so watchful that His apostles could not pluck a few heads of grain to eat as food, as they passed through the fields on the Sabbath without their being watched, and so very critical, that He could not heal an afflicted man on the Sabbath without bringing on their criticism. Their constant watchfulness in these small matters proves how surely they would have detected any real fault in Him; and since they did NOT do so, is proof that there was NO real fault anywhere in His conduct.
#2. His meekness in retiring from the presence of angry disagreements (verses 14-21), was just as we would expect to find in the Son of God, and it was the fulfillment of predictions concerning Him uttered hundreds of years before His Coming (Isa.53:7).
#3. In reply to the charge that He cast out demons by the power of Satan, it is proven beyond any doubt that His miracles were done by the power of the Spirit of God; and therefore, that God was with Him; and that, as a result, all that He claimed for Himself was true.
#4. The above evidence is confirmed by the manner in which, as described in the last paragraph, He arose above all the constricted and cramping influences of family ties, and declared the much higher claims of religious union. A failure here would have argued human weakness . . . but He did NOT fail is any argument for His divine perfection.
Gospel of Matthew
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