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Bible Commentaries

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

Matthew 19

 

 

Verses 1-30

Matthew 19:3. The pharisees also came — tempting him. These men professed perfection of morality, and of worship; and their object was to tempt our Lord to sin, by giving his sanction to a law of custom, revolting to all the feelings of humanity, and admitting that a man might divorce his wife for any corporeal infirmity, or defect in temper or conduct. Our Saviour confounded their ingenious malice by the non-admission of any just cause of divorce, except that of adultery, and adultery proved first at the bar of justice. See Deuteronomy 24:1. Malachi 2:11-14.

Matthew 19:8. Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts. This text is explained by some to refer to the peculiar hardness or wickedness of the jews, who were given up to their own heart’s lusts. Stephen also says that God turned, and gave them up to worship the hosts of heaven. So it was not from the original law, but from displeasure, that Moses permitted a separation. The rabbins did not apply the law of stoning an adulteress, except the proofs of guilt were absolute.

Matthew 19:11. All men cannot receive this saying. ου παντες χωρουσι τον λογον τουτον; all men do not receive this saying. Cannot is not found in any version, except the English. Tous ne comprenent pas cette parole. CALVIN’S Testament. All men do not embrace a life of celibacy. Some are born eunuchs, some are made so by oriental tyrants, to attend as slaves in their harems. Some, like Origen, become so from motives of piety. Many ministers and missionaries embrace a life of celibacy to move in a sphere of entire devotedness to God. It is thus apparent, that eunuchism, with the exception of natural defects, is here taken for the chastity and purity of a single life.

Matthew 19:13. Then were there brought to him little children, by the parents who believed in Christ, that he might put his hands on them and bless them, as Jacob in his last days blessed Ephraim and Manasseh, the two sons of Joseph. Ministers may learn from their Master, in visiting schools and families, to take notice of children, for they are as much the heirs of the kingdom as their parents. Mark 10:13.

Matthew 19:16. One came and said — what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life. This interesting piece of history is related also by Mark and Luke, who call the applicant a ruler. It is highly interesting to young people, and claims improvement here. The young man seems to have entered on the enjoyment of his fortune, and was laudably desirous to consecrate it by an offering to God, for the benefit of religion and the poor. This had the appearance both of piety and prudence, for few estates are realized without many hard bargains, not to say extortions; and alms would exonerate his wealth of any doubtful curse attached to unlawful gains, where the proper restitution could not be traced.

This young man in character and conduct was highly moral. He could say of the second table, all these precepts have I observed, and no blot has stained my reputation. What a model for the youth of our age. What myriads, younger than he, who must drop their countenance in his presence.

He was respectful to the ministers of religion; he knew not the godhead of Christ, but ranking him with the first of prophets, he kneeled before him, and called him good Master. Young Obadiah prostrated before Elijah, and called him lord. This youth wished for religious and paternal instruction, that he might live to the glory of God, and secure the blessings of the covenant on his house. Let men therefore learn from their earliest youth to revere religion, to converse with its ministers, and to shun the breath of those who slander sacred things.

Our Lord treated him with compassion, prudence, and fidelity. He loved him because he saw in him some fine dispositions, which wanted to be set right by truth and conversion. He mildly admonished him for excess of complaisance, in applying the title of good to any one but God, original sin having tainted the human mass. There is indeed twice in our version the good man of the house used: but in the Greek, it is not αγαθος agathos, as here, but father of the family. We should never give either to prince or priest a title which we cannot use with a good conscience.

Our Lord however did not abruptly cross this young man in his religious views, for education had filled his mind with ideas of human or legal righteousness. Too much light overpowers tender minds. He met him on his own ground, and led him to obedience as the surest test of love to God. Keep the commandments. Here the young man had joy, as to the letter, and thought that righteousness covered him as a garment. But Jesus never left his work unfinished. To mark the defect in his love, he laid his finger on the tender spot, and touched his only sin. If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell all that thou hast, and give to the poor; and come thou, be an apostle, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven. Here the sharp sword touched the quick; this young man loved his land more than God, and went away sorrowful.

Here we see that no man can be converted till his sin is touched; and likewise, that one single predominant sin will exclude a man from heaven. We learn also the great difficulty of rich men being saved. It is difficult among so many viands and wines to preserve temperance; it is difficult among so many honours paid to the world properly to honour God. It is difficult when surrounded by so much earthly wealth, and by an enchanting residence, properly to place the affections on the paradise above, and to be a faithful steward of the mammon of unrighteousness.

We learn lastly, that men may attain on earth a growing perfection of virtue. If thou wilt be perfect, said the Lord. A martyr may love God more than life; an injured man may pray for his enemies, and wish them every good; and a man may account all his worldly honours as loss, and as dung, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ. May the Lord perfect us in that love which casteth out all fear. But I seem to see in our congregations, numbers of young men, lovely as this youth, children of the righteous, and heirs of the promises, whose conversion through some one sin is retarded. What an awful thing, if through that one sin, they have to go away sorrowful from the left hand of Christ.

Matthew 19:24. It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. This is a Hebrew proverb, denoting a thing impossible. In fortified towns the gates were strong, and closed at an early hour. The wide gate was for carriages; on each side was a narrow gate for foot passengers, called the needle’s eye, because its figure resembled the eye of a needle. To read “cable,” is unfounded, and trifling with the text. Rich men in order to be saved are called to make sacrifices, as indicated by other scriptures. 1 Timothy 6:10. James 2:5-6. The miser who so loves his money as to neglect the duties of charity, can never dwell with the God of love.

Matthew 19:28. Ye which have followed me in the regeneration, or new birth, and persevered in efforts to regenerate the world, shall sit on thrones, as Daniel foretold; and then those who have believed in Christ shall judge the Hebrew world, and all their ungodly neighbours. The scribes and the pharisees who now are first, shall then be last; while the regenerate publicans and sinners shall sit as assessors with Christ in heavenly places. Yea, many preachers and professors whose love has decayed, shall then be thrown into the dark shades, while those who are most holy and useful shall shine as the brightness of the firmament for ever and ever.

 


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Bibliography Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Matthew 19:4". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jsc/matthew-19.html. 1835.

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