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MATT. XXV.

MATT. XXV.

glory: And before him shall be gathered the goats on the left. 34 Then shall the all nations; and he shall separate them king say unto them on his right hand, one from another, as a shepherd divideth Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit his sheep from the goats: 33 And he the kingdom prepared for you from the shall set the sheep on his right hand, but foundation of the world; 35 For I was an

throne of his glory;] a Hebraism, for "his glorious throne." Among the Orientals, the throne is the symbol both of the regal and judicial functions united; the idea therefore is, Then shall he appear as king and judge; which is the same thing he had taught on other occasions, viz. that, before the end of that generation, he would come in his kingdom, his kingdom would come with power, and that he would then reward men according to their works. (Matt. xvi. 27, 28; Mark ix. 1.) Indeed, the whole tenor of the four Gospels shows that he did not consider his kingdom fully "come" upon earth, nor his character of king and judge properly realized, till the overthrow of the Jewish polity, in the end of that age.

Ver. 32. before him shall be gathered, &c.;] a figure manifestly taken, like most of the figures in this representation, from the customs of eastern courts, before which the parties under trial are arraigned, in propria præsentia. But as neither a visible throne, nor a formal assembling before it, belongs to the processes of divine justice, the simple meaning evidently is, shall then be made the subjects of his special retributive administration. The prophets, as is well known, habitually employ the imagery of a throne, with angelic attendants and the congregated nations, in their descriptions of divine judgments on states and parties. all nations;] or, more literally, "all the nations;" used here merely in the popular sense in which Christ just before used the same phrase, in Matt. xxiv. 9 and 14, where he told his disciples that they should be hated of "all the nations," and that their preaching should be for a witness to "all the nations," before the destruction of Jerusalem. These nations, not only Jews, but Gentiles also, would now be the subjects of his retributive administration. -shall separate them,] viz. the people of those

nations. The pronoun, in the original, does not refer immediately to the word nations, it being of a different gender. (Winer, Grammatik des neutest. Sprach. S. 126.) They should be placed in separate conditions, ac cording to their different courses of conduct described in the sequel. -as a shepherd di videth his sheep from the goats.] The figure in this clause and in the next verse has occasioned the entire paragraph to be called the parable of the sheep and goats, a title not warranted, however, by the incidental use of a single simile and metaphor of this kind; especially, since nearly all the imagery, throughout the representation, is taken from a very different source, viz. from the usages of Oriental kings.

Ver. 33. —on his right hand;] the place of favour and honour. -on the left;] the place of disfavour. These figures are, of course, but parts of the imagery, and denote only, in a general way, that one party was to be approved, and the other condemned.

Ver. 34. The forms of regal judicature are still continued by representing the king as pronouncing vocally, in solemn and formal verdict, his award to the first party. inherit the kingdom,] viz. the kingdom of Christ, the kingdom of God, which Christ had told the Jews, on another occasion, when referring to this very time, "shall be taken from you, and given unto a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof." (Matt. xxi. 43.) They were now introduced, for the first time, to its privileges; of course, they had not before enjoyed the inheritance, had not belonged to Christ's kingdom. -prepared for you from the foundation of the world;] World,-kosmos. In the divine counsel, this kingdom, or the gospel, had always been designed for them, though they received an inheritance in it only at so late a period. The phrase, "prepared for you," &c. was a proverbial one, as we find from the book of Tobit, where the angel says to him, concerning his wife, "she was prepared for thee from the beginning of time;" (apo tou aiōnos, Tobit vi. 17;) i. e. was always de

probably refers to the same subject. Such are the facts with respect to Christ's doctrine on this point.

Some of these texts, in which he speaks of coming to judg. ment, are so strikingly illustrative of the one under consideration, that they must not be passed over with a mere re-signed for him in the divine counsel. The ference. "The Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father, with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. Verily I say unto you, There in the same general way to the fore-orderings

phrase in the text may, therefore, refer only

be some standing here which shall not taste of death, till

they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom." (Matt. xvi 27,23.) "Whosoever, therefore, shall be ashamed of me, and of my words, in this adulterous and sinful generation,

of Providence; although it is, indeed, a specific truth, asserted in other Scriptures, that the original promise of the gospel expressly embraced the Gentiles.

of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he com eth in the glory of his Father with the holy angels. And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, that there be some of them that stand here which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power." (Mark viii. 33; ix. 1.) "For whosoever shall be ashamed of me, and

of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when

Ver. 35, 36. The king is represented as proceeding to specify the immediate reason why he awarded the inheritance to them. It was, as he here expresses it, because they had affectionately ministered to the king, that is, to the Messiah.

he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels. But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here which shall not taste of death till they see the kingdom

of God." (Luke ix. 26, 27.)

MATT. XXV.

hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: 36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. 37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? or, thirsty, and gave thee drink? 38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? 39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? 40 And the king shall answer,

Ver. 37-39. —the righteous,] or just, (dikuivi ;) meaning, either comparatively just, or that they were justified on that occasion, in contradistinction to the other party, which was condemned. They, however, are represented as totally unconscious of having served the Messiah, or of having paid him any attention whatsoever. This circumstance must be carefully remarked; because it is here brought forward as one of their distinguishing characteristics.

MATT. XXV.

and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. 41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 For I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: 43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. 44 Then shall they also answer

lasting fire, (eis to pur to aiōnion;)] denoting a long-enduring state of tribulation. Fire is the favourite metaphor, in the New Testament as well as in the Old, to represent the sufferings of nations and communities, or the divine judgments. For this purpose had John the Baptist used it, ("unquenchable fire,") with reference to the time alluded to in the text. (Matt. iii. 12.) So likewise had Christ, with reference to the troubles that followed his ministry: "I am come to send fire on the earth." (Luke xii. 49, comp. Matt. x. 34.) We need not quote other examples, particularly from that storehouse, the book of Revelation; nor refer to the Old Testament, where they are known to abound in such profusion." Everlasting, or aiōnion; often applied to things of the present life. -prepared for the devil and his angels;] an allusion to the contemporary Jewish opinions; as in the parable of the wheat and tares, Matt. xiii. 37-43; also Rev. xx.

Ver. 40. Nor does the king himself imply, when he comes now to state his meaning more definitely, that they had ever paid any attention directly to the Messiah. But they had received his disciples, and ministered to them; all of which he accounted as done to himself. And this was all that he really intended in his previous declaration. It was on this ground alone that the inheritance was now awarded to them. -unto one of the least of these my brethren.] Here, be it observed, is a third party brought into view, viz. the brethren of the king, or the disciples of Christ. These were not arraigned as subjects of his trial: their case had already been sufficiently represented, in the preceding parables. In the present scene, they were not a party concerned; were neither on the right hand, nor on the left. Of course, those on the right hand represent a class of people who had not been disciples of Christ, nor recognized a Messiah; but who had nevertheless kindly received and treated his disciples, and who were at that time admitted to the blessings of Christ's kingdom. And it is well known that we find such a class among the Gentiles of that age; who were then received, moreover, into the covenant of the gospel, and, in the striking language of the text, made to "inherit the kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world." The kingdom of God was taken from the Jews, and given unto a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. (Matt. xxi. 43.)

Ver. 41. The forms of eastern judicature are still continued, and sentence is pronounced on those on the left hand. As those on the right were called "ye blessed of my Father," these are now called "ye cursed." -depart from me;] denoting their rejection. —into ever

Ver. 42, 43. As in the former case, the king is here represented as proceeding to specify the grounds of his decision; which were, that they had not ministered to the king, i. e. to the Messiah.

Ver. 44. They, however, were surprised a this charge, confident that they had bee faithfully devoted to the cause of their king. or Messiah; they even challenged the proof of delinquency in this respect. Their self

To exemplify still further the frequency and extent of application with which the Jews, just before Christ's time, were accustomed to employ this figure, we subjoin a summary of its use in the Apocrypha, where it denotes merely temporal judgments or sufferings. Many of the will be found to bear a close affinity with the phraseology of plain them. The vengeance on the ungodly is fire and such controverted passages as our text, and may help to exworms; in the congregation of the ungodly, a flame is kindled, and, in a rebellious nation, wrath is set on fire: the congregation of the wicked is like tow wrapped together, and the end of them is a flame of fire to destroy them; let the heathen nations be consumed by the rage of fire; an evil tongue burneth as a flame of fire, and shall not be quenched; the lewd shall be a heritage to moths and worms; they kindle a fire in their flesh; a hot mind is as a burning fire, punishment upon Babylon, fire shall come down upon her which will never be quenched till it be consumed; as a from the Everlasting, long to endure, and she shall be inhabited of demons for a long time; the hardships which Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob suffered were their trial by fire: woe to the nations that rise up against the Jews! the Lord

Almighty will punish them in a day of judgment, pu fire and worms in their flesh, and they shall feel and forever," (cos aiōnos.)

MATT. XXV.

him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? 45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto

assurance, contrasted as it is with the total unconsciousness evinced by those on the right hand, is made a prominent feature in their character, and is important for ascertaining the class of people here intended.

MATT. XXV,

you, inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. 46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

xvii. 3.) "He that believeth on the Son, hath everlasting life," (zoen aiōnion.) (John iii. 36.) "He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, (zoën aiōnion,) and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death into life." (John v. 24.) In other places, also, Christians are said to have passed from death into life, (eis zoēn.)

REMARK.-It has sometimes been contended that, since the most of the Jews (the Pharisees) of Christ's time held an eternal retribution for mankind after death, he must have been understood to teach the same idea,

Ver. 45. In reply to their challenge, the king alleges no direct delinquency on their part, and does not maintain his charge in the prima facie sense in which they understood it, but explains it merely of their cruel neglect of his brethren, or of the disciples of Christ; and this he accounted as neglect of himself. These on the left accordingly represent a people who thought themselves faithful to the cause of their expected Messiah, and who had, in fact, been punctilious in what they regard-when he spoke of "everlasting fire" and ed as his service, but had mistreated those "everlasting punishment," because these are that proved to be his disciples. This was the leading terms of that doctrine, and assotheir guilt. It scarcely need be observed, ciated with it by common usage. They are, that we find this description realized, with indeed, the leading terms of our modern striking exactness, in the religious Jews, who doctrine of endless misery; but it is worthy were rejected of God at that time, and doom- of special notice, that they do not appear to ed to a state of alienation and suffering, which have been thus appropriated by the ancient has not yet ceased. Jews, who, so far as we can ascertain, employed other terms and other figures to signify that idea; so that they would not understand Christ to speak of that subject, when he used neither the phraseology nor the representations which they connected with the doctrine, to say nothing of the evident tenour of the context.

Ver. 46. into everlasting punishment, (eis kolasin aiōnion;] see note on ver. 41 and 45. eternal life, (zoën aiōnion;) i. e. the life of the gospel, as the phrase often means; thus, "This is life eternal, (aiōnios zoē,) that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." (John 148

THE END.

OF

THE DIVINE GOVERNMENT.

BY T. SOUTHWOOD SMITH, M. D.

"Beholding, in the sacred light
Of his essential reason, all the shapes
Of swift contingence, all successive ties
Of action, propagated through the sum
Of possible existence-he at once,
Down the long series of eventful time,
So fixed the dates of being-so disposed,
To every living soul of every kind,
The field of motion, and the hour of rest,
That all conspired to his supreme design-
TO UNIVERSAL GOOD!"

PHILADELPHIA:

GIHON, FAIRCHILD & CO.

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