« PreviousContinue »
The sickness and death of two beloved members of my family during the progress of my labor, together with other cares, and trials, and anxieties, may entitle me to some forbearance in respect to comparatively unimportant defects.
Such as it is, this volume (which will be succeeded by a secona, in due time, if God permit) is offered to the public, with the hope that, in the Sunday School, Bible Class, Family, and even the Clergyman's Study, it may not be unwelcome or unprofitable. May God add his blessing to this effort to extend among men the knowledge of his abounding grace. LUCIUS R. PAIGE Cambridge, June 1, 1844.
GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW.
THE word Gospel literally signifies good news, or, a joyful message. It is Low almost exclusively applied to the doctrines of the New Testament; ǝr, by a common figure, to the New Testament itself, especially to the first four books, namely, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
Matthew, the writer of this Gospel, was one of the twelve apostles; his call is recorded by himself, in ch. ix. 9; and by Mark, in ch. ii. 14, where he is called “Levi the son of Alpheus." Of his labors as an apostle, and the time and manner of his death, little is known. He is represented, by some ancient writers, to have suffered martyrdom; but the evidence rests on tradition only.
Critics have disputed concerning the true date of this Gospel. Some suppose it was written as early as A. D. 37; others, as late as A. D. 61. Horne suggests, that, "as the weight of evidence is in favor of Saint Matthew's having composed his Gospel in Hebrew and Greek, we may refer the early date of A. D. 37 or 38 to the former, and A. D. 61 to the latter." Introd. iv. 234. It has stood at the beginning of the New Testament, from the time when the books were first arranged; which is, in itself, an argument in favor of its early date, or, at least, that it was then supposed to have been written before either of the other three.
The language in which this Gospel was written has also been a subject of dispute. Some have asserted that the original was in the Hebrew, or Syro-Chaldaic, the common language of Palestine; others, that it was in Greek. By others, again, as before suggested, it has been supposed that Matthew wrote a copy, at different times, in each language. However this be, it is certain that the only authentic copies, which have survived the wreck of ages, evidently owe their origin to the Greek.
That this Gospel is authentic, there is a perfect agreement among the ancient ecclesiastical writers. Recently, some have questioned, and even denied, the genuineness of the first two chapters; but not, in my judg ment, on sufficient grounds. The fact stated by Horne is very material, if not decisive namely, that these two chapters are "found in all the ancient
INTRODUCTION TO THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW.
manuscripts now extant, which are entire, as well as in many that have come down to us mutilated by the hand of time, and also in the ancient versions without exception." Introd. iv. 240.
Bishop Pearce notices seven "remarkable things in Matthew's Gospel,' or circumstances in which it differs from the other three :
"I. That he mentions only one journey of Jesus to Jerusalem, and tha was when he suffered.
"II. That he, for the most part, means, by the kingdom of God, or of heaven, that spiritual kingdom which Jesus was to set up in the world by his Gospel.
"III. That, almost everywhere, he makes Jesus express himself in the figurative style, which was the Eastern manner.
"IV. That he seems to have written this Gospel within ten years after Jesus' ascension into heaven, as ancient authors say he did.
"V. That he observes the order of time in his history much more than either Mark, Luke, or John, does.
"VI. That he does not mention Jesus' ascension into heaven, nor his meeting his disciples at Bethany, mentioned by Luke, xxiv. 50.
"VII. That he mentions only two appearances of Jesus, after his resur rection."
THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW
THE book of the generation of THE book of the generation of
vid, the son of Abraham.
1. The book of the generation. Commentators differ in opinion concerning the meaning of this phrase. Some consider it the title of the whole gospel; others, the title of this chapter, especially the first seventeen verses. The former understand the word translated generation to mean a general history of a person's life and conduct; the latter regard it as equivalent to genealogy. The Jews were very careful to preserve genealogical registers of their tribes and families, that the rights and privileges of each might not be forfeited. Such forfeiture is mentioned, Ezra ii. 62. In conformity with this custom of the Jews, and to convince them that the ancient promises had their fulfilment in the proper tribe and family, the evangelist commences the history of our Lord's ministry by giving his pedigree, -drawn, probably, from the public registers at Jerusalem. This portion he might properly call the book of the generation, or an account of the genealogy, of Jesus Christ. ¶ Jesus. See note on ver. 21. ¶ Christ. This is a Greek word, signifying anointed. The Hebrew word Messiah has the same signification. The Jewish priests and kings were anointed with oil, as an emblem of consecration to their respective offiSee Exod. xxx. 30; 1 Sam. xvi. 3. Vessels and altars, also, designed for sacred purposes, were consecrated by a similar anointing. See Ex. xxix. 36; xl. 9, 10, 11. Hence it resulted, that, among the Jews, to anoint signified almost precisely the same as to conse
2 Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren;
3 And Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar; and Phares begat
crate. Believing that the promised seed of Abraham would be both priest and king, consecrated to a most impor tant office, and that he would be holy, the prophets described him as emphatically the anointed, or Messiah. By Christians he is styled the anointed, or Christ, not only on account of his regal and priestly character, but because he received the spirit of holiness most abundantly. The apostles frequently use the emblem of anointing, to indicate his divine graces. Acts iv. 27; x. 38. Heb. i. 9. He himself, also, used the same figure of speech, in the application of an ancient prophecy. Luke iv. 18. The Son of David. The word son, in the Scriptures, has a great variety of signification. Sometimes, it indicates literally a son; sometimes, a grandson, a remote descendant, a pupil, a very dear friend. Besides these more obvíous significations, it has several others, which will be hereafter noticed. In the text, it manifestly means a descendant. ¶ The Son of Abraham. It would seem that Abraham and David were selected from the catalogue of ancestors, and particularly named in this place, because the promise was so solemnly made to Abraham, that the Saviour should be one of his posterity, Gen. xxii. 18; compare Gal. iii. 16; Heb. vi. 17, 18; and because it was so universally expected by the Jews, that he should descend through the family of David. To excite attention, therefore, it was well to give a prominent place to these two names.
2-16. These verses contain the genealogy, or pedigree, mentioned in ver. 1. It differs very considerably from that
Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram ;
given by Luke, ch. iii. This difference has caused much perplexity in the minds of many writers. The solution which seems most probable is, that Matthew gives the genealogy of Joseph, the reputed father of Jesus, and Luke names the ancestors of Mary, his mother. Matthew is supposed to have written his Gospel for the more imme-question the correctness of these tables. diate benefit of the Jews; and Luke, for This is full proof that, in a time when the instruction of the Gentiles. It it was easy to understand these tables, might be sufficient for the Jews to they were believed to be correct." I prove the descent of Joseph from David, only add, that, although Jesus had frebecause their marriage customs were quent occasion to answer other objecsuch as to render it nearly certain that tions alleged against his Messiahship, Mary was of the same tribe and family. it does not appear, in the sacred narraIf any doubt existed on this point, the tive, that he ever encountered any obpublic registers were at hand, and might |jection in regard to his lineage, or found easily be consulted. With the Gen- it necessary to offer additional proof tiles, the case was different. Not that he was a son or descendant of necessarily acquainted with the laws David and of Abraham. of marriage among the Jews, or, if they 2. Judas. The names of several perwere, not having ready access to the sons in this catalogue differ from the proof that Joseph and Mary were of the corresponding names in the Old Testa same lineage, it was proper that they ment, on account of certain peculiari should receive an account of Mary's ties in the Hebrew and Greek lan pedigree. The descent of Jesus from guages. Lightfoot says, "The Greek David and Abraham was the great fact cannot utter h before a vowel in the to be proved. And this could not be middle of a word, nor after one in the satisfactorily proved, without showing end; therefore, in the middle, it leaveth that such was the descent of Mary; it out, as in Josaphat, Joram, and this because both Matthew and Luke dis-word Judas; and in the end it changeth tinctly assert that Joseph was not the it into s, as in this and many other actual father of Jesus. The foremen- words in this chapter.' Among the tioned facts being considered, it appears words, thus changed in their orthogra. highly probable that Matthew compiled phy, a few, of frequent occurrence, may the genealogy of Joseph from the pub- be named. Messiah is written Meslic registers at Jerusalem, as sufficient sias, in the New Testament; Abraham, for the Jews; while Luke, from the Abram; Elijah, Elias; Elisha, Eliseus; same registers, compiled the genealogy Isaiah, Esaias; Rahab, Rachab; Jehosh. of Mary, as more satisfactory to the aphat, Josaphat. And his brethren. Gentiles. Whether or not this be the These are added, being heads of the true solution of the difficulty, we need several tribes, and therefore worthy of not doubt the substantial accuracy of honorable notice. Some have supposed either genealogy; for, as Barnes very that the evangelist also designed thus sensibly observes,-" No difficulty was to administer additional consolation to ever found or alleged, in regard to the dispersed tribes, intimating their them, by any of the early enemies of equal interest in the Saviour. Christianity. There is no evidence that they ever adduced them as containing a contradiction. Many of those enemies were acute, learned, and able; and they show by their writings that they were not indisposed to detect all the errors that could possibly be found in the sacred narrative. Now it is to be remembered, that the Jews were fully competent to show that these tables
3. Phares and Zara. The latter is named, being a twin with the former. A peculiarity like this is serviceable in identifying the individuals named in a genealogy, and distinguishing them from others of similar names. Nor is it unusual, in genealogies, to introduce a reference to something peculiar in the history of an individual, even though his identity be otherwise perfectly man
4 And Aram begat Aminadab;
were incorrect, if they were really so; and it is clear that they were fully disposed, if possible, to do it. The fact, therefore, that it is not done, is clear evidence that they thought them to be correct. The same may be said of the acute pagans who wrote against Christianity. None of them have called