PLUS Resource: 6 Prayers for When You Are Fighting Anxiety

Matthew 12

SUMMARY.--Jesus Accused of Sabbath Breaking. The Son of Man Lord of the Sabbath. Healing the Withered Hand. The Pharisees Take Counsel to Destroy Jesus. The Tenderness of Christ. A Dumb and Blind Demoniac Healed. Accused of Help from the Devil to Cast Out Demons. A Divided Kingdom. Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit. Shall Give Account for Idle Words. The Sign of Jonah. The Queen of the South. His Mother and Brethren. Who Are My Mother and Brethren?

      23. Is not this the Son of David? The promised Messiah King who was to be the Son of David, according to the prophets ( Isaiah 11:10 Isaiah 11:2 2 Sam. 23:5 ).

      24. The Pharisees hearing it. Compare Mark 3:22-27 . Mark says that some of these Pharisees were scribes who had come from Jerusalem. The ecclesiastical authorities at Jerusalem were now keeping their watch on Jesus. He casteth not out devils but by Beelzebub. See note on Matt. 10:25. Beelzebub, the prince of devils, meant the same as Satan. The Pharisees assert that the Lord's miraculous power is due to the aid of the devil.

      25. Knowing their thoughts. They had not made this charge to Christ, but to the multitudes. Every kingdom divided against itself. A general truth is stated. Most states and kingdoms fall, not by the power of foreign enemies, but by the weakness due to divisions.

      26. If Satan casteth out Satan. If demons were cast out by the aid of Satan, then Satan was fighting against his own servants. His kingdom was divided against itself.

      27. By whom do your sons cast them out? There were Jewish exorcists who professed to cast out demons. Josephus tells of one named Eleazar, whom he says did cast them out. Christ does not say whether they did or not, but argues: "If I, by Satan, cast out demons, by whom do your own exorcists, whom you assert have this power, cast them out"? Compare Acts 19:13 .

      28. If I by the Spirit of God, etc. If it is the power of God manifest in me, then it demonstrates that I am the expected Messiah King, the Son of David, of whom the multitude spoke. See verse 23 .

      29. How can . . . spoil his goods, etc.? No one can enter a man's house and take his goods unless he has first conquered him. If I am not the Messiah, stronger than Satan, how could I spoil him?

      30. He that is not for me, etc. The two kingdoms of Satan and of Christ are opposed. No neutrality is possible. He that is not for me is against me.

      31. The blasphemy against the Holy Spirit shall not be forgiven. Compare Mark 3:28 and Luke 12:10 Mark 3:28 and Luke 12:10 . Much discussion has arisen concerning the nature of sin against the Holy Spirit, and nothing is plainer. Mk 3:29 Mk 3:30 explains it. It was ascribing Christ's works to demoniac influence. These works were wrought by the power of the Spirit.

      32. Whoever speaketh against the Son of man. Personal injuries will be forgiven on repentance. Christ prayed for his persecutors. Every sin can be forgiven but that against the Holy Spirit. Speak against the Holy Spirit. Perversely ascribe the work of the Holy Spirit to Satan. Neither in this world nor that to come. Judgment shall overtake him both here and hereafter. The Jews divided the two worlds, or, rather, ages of the world, by the coming of Christ. This would then mean that there is forgiveness to such a sin under neither dispensation. No passage in the Bible affirms more emphatically the doctrine of eternal punishment. There is a sin that hath no forgiveness.

      33. Either make the tree good, and the fruit good. The principle is announced in Matt. 7:20 that the tree is known by its fruits. If his own life and works were evil, then he might be evil and aided by Satan, but if good, then his power was from God.

      34, 35. Generation of vipers. Poisonous, evil and dangerous, like vipers. How can ye, etc.? Their hearts were thoroughly evil, hence they could only speak and do evil, for "out of the good treasure of the heart the mouth speaketh." On the other hand, the "good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth good things."

      36. Every idle word. If we shall be called on to give account for every idle, rash, inconsiderate word, how much more for such blasphemy as the Pharisees had uttered? How careful, too, should we be to see that our speech is pure!

      37. By thy words shalt thou be justified, etc. Acquitted or condemned in the day of judgment. To justify is the opposite of to condemn. Those who confess Christ with the mouth ( Rom. 10:9 ) shall be saved; those who deny him will be lost. Words have a weighty influence on our eternal destiny.

      38. Master, we would see a sign from thee. Compare Matt. 16:1 and Luke 11:16 Luke 11:16 Luke 11:29 . They had just seen a miracle, but demand another. Jesus never worked miracles to gratify human curiosity, or to secure popular applause.

      39. An evil and adulterous generation. We must keep in mind that the Lord is speaking to his enemies. He compares them to a faithless wife. They were faithless to God. The sign of Jonah. See next verse .

      40. As Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish. See Jonah 1:17 . The great fish was probably not a whale, the Greek is "sea monster," but a white shark, which abounds abounds in the Mediterranean, and is said to swallow a horse whole. The miracle was the preservation of the life of Jonah during his living burial. This was a type of the burial and resurrection of Christ. So shall the Son of man be three days and three nights. Jesus says ( Matt. 16:21 ) that he will "be raised again the third day." Hence, in Jewish usage the third day must mean the same as three days and three nights. It was and is customary with the Orientals to make any part of the day stand for the whole twenty-four hours. Compare Matt. 16:21 Mk 8:31 Mk 8:2 Ch 10:5 Ch 10:12 Esther 4:16 Genesis 7:4 Genesis 7:12 Exodus 24:18 Exodus 34:28 . A traveler in the East writes: "At length the tenth morning arrived--the tenth morning because, though we performed nominally ten days quarantine, yet it was, really, only eight days. We landed at nine o'clock in the evening of the first day, and were liberated at six o'clock in the morning of the tenth day, but it was held to be ten days according to the custom of the East." Christ was buried Friday evening, lay in the grave Saturday, and rose Sunday, parts of three days, rose "on the third day," and was in the grave the space of time meant in eastern usage by three days and three nights. In the heart of the earth. In the sepulcher.

      41. The men of Nineveh. The great capital of the Assyrian Empire, situated on the Tigris river, in its day the greatest city in the world, to which Jonah was sent to warn it of judgment for its sins. It has been for many hundred years a ruin. Shall stand up in judgment. They repented at the preaching of Jonah, but "this generation" of Jews remained impenitent under the preaching of "one greater than Jonah." The example of the Ninevites condemns the Jews.

      42. The queen of the south. Of Sheba ( 1 Kings 10:1 ), supposed to be Sabæa in Southern Arabia. From the ends of the earth. A great distance. On the extreme southern shores of Asia. A greater than Solomon is here. A calm assertion of superhuman majesty and wisdom.

      43-45. When the unclean spirit, etc. The application of these three verses is found in "even so it shall be unto this wicked generation," the Jews. With an occasional tendency to repentance, as under the preaching of John, they became worse and worse until they crucified the Lord and were destroyed. A man with an unclean spirit, a demon, is chosen to represent them. He goeth out (transient repentance), returns with seven other evil spirits worse than himself (a relapse into sin), and the last state is worse than the first, more wicked and more wretched. So generally with those who dally with sin.

      46, 47. His mother and his brethren. On the brethren of the Lord, see note on Matt. 13:55. Compare Mark 3:31-35 and Luke 8:19 Luke 8:19 Luke 8:21 . His brethren did not yet believe in him.

      48, 49. Who is my mother, and my brethren? An allusion to his Divine character, which lifted him above the ordinary ties of the flesh. Behold my mother and my brethren. His real relatives are those bound to him by spiritual ties.

      50. The same is my brother. Not those with fleshly ties, but those who do the will of his Father in heaven. Such become God's spiritual children, and thus become spiritually related to the Son of God. It will be observed that there is no hint of adoration of Mary, his mother, here, or elsewhere in the Scriptures. That she was immaculately born, as the "Queen of Heaven" and the "Mother of God," is a Catholic fable.

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