Bible Commentary in 8 Volumes
The Gospel According to St.
Notes on Chapter 20
Verse 1. One of those days— Supposed to have been one of the four last days of his life, mentioned Luke 19:47, probably Tuesday before the passover.
Verse 2. By what authority, etc.— See the note on Matthew 21:23-27.
Verse 9. A certain man planted a vineyard, etc.— See this parable largely explained, Matthew 21:33-46. See also on Mark 12:4-9.
Verse 10. That they should give him of the fruit— The Hindoo corn-merchants, that have lent money to husbandmen, send persons in harvest-time to collect their share of the produce of the ground.
Verse 16. God forbid.— Or, Let it not be, mh genoito. Our phrase, God forbid, answers pretty well to the meaning of the Greek, but it is no translation.
Verse 18. Grind him to powder.— See on Matthew 21:44.
Verse 20. They watched him— parathrhsantev, Insidiously watching. See on Luke 14:1.
Spies— egkaqetouv, from en, in, and kaqihmi, I let down, to set in ambush. One who crouches in some secret place to spy, listen, catch, or hurt. Hesychius explains the word by enedreuontev, those who lie in wait, or in ambush, to surprise and slay. Josephus uses the word to signify a person bribed for a particular purpose. See War, b. ii. c. ii. s. 5, and b. vi. c. v. s. 2. No doubt the persons mentioned in the text were men of the basest principles, and were hired by the malicious Pharisees to do what they attempted in vain to perform.
Verse 22. Is it lawful for us to give tribute unto Caesar— See this insidious but important question considered at large on Matthew 22:16-22.
Verse 29. There were therefore seven brethren— See on Matthew 22:23-33.
Verse 34. The children of this world— Men and women in their present state of mortality and probation; procreation being necessary to restore the waste made by death, and to keep up the population of the earth.
Verse 36. Equal unto the angels— Who neither marry nor die. See the Jewish testimonies to the resurrection of the human body quoted at length on 1 Corinthians 15:42.
Verse 38. All live unto him.— There is a remarkable passage in Josephus’s account of the Maccabees, chap. xvi., which proves that the best informed Jews believed that the souls of righteous men were in the presence of God in a state of happiness. “They who lose their lives for the sake of God, LIVE unto GOD, as do Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the rest of the patriarchs.” And one not less remarkable in Shemoth Rabba, fol. 159. “Rabbi Abbin saith, The Lord said unto Moses, Find me out ten righteous persons among the people, and I will not destroy thy people. Then said Moses, Behold, here am I, Aaron, Eleazar, Ithamar, Phineas, Caleb, and Joshua; but God said, Here are but seven, where are the other three? When Moses knew not what to do, he said, O Eternal God, do those live that are dead! Yes, saith God. Then said Moses, If those that are dead do live, remember Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” So the resurrection of the dead, and the immortality and immateriality of the soul, were not strange or unknown doctrines among the Jews.
Verse 40. They durst not ask— Or, did not venture to ask any other question, for fear of being again confounded, as they had already been.
Verse 41. How say they— See the note on Matthew 22:42-46.
Verse 43. Thy footstool.— Literally, the footstool of thy feet. They shall not only be so far humbled that the feet may be set on them; but they shall be actually subjected, and put completely under that Christ whom they now despise, and are about to crucify.
Verse 46. Beware of the scribes— Take heed that ye be not seduced by those who should show you the way of salvation. See on Matthew 23:4-14.