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xii. 16-21; xvi. 19-31. Still Jesus says, ver. 26, all these may be overcome. God can give grace to do it. 27 Then answered Peter, and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?
'We have forsaken all.' Probably nothing but their fisning nets, small boats, and cottages. But these were their all their living, their home. And forsaking them, they had as really shown their sincerity, as though they had possessed the gold of Ophir, and dwelt in the palaces of kings, and had forsaken it all. What shall we have therefore ? We have done as thou didst command this young man to do. What reward may we expect for it?
28 And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
Jesus in this verse declares the reward which they would have. They were not to look for it now, but in a future period. 'In the regeneration.' This word occurs but once elsewhere in the New Testament, Titus iii. 5. It literally means a new birth, or being born again. The word also means any great changes, or restoration of things to a former state, or to a better state. In this sense it is used here. It refers to that great revolution; that restoration of order in the universe; that universal new birth when the dead shall rise, and all human things shall be changed, when the Son of man shall come to judgment. When the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory.' That is, to judge the world. 'Throne of glory' means glorious throne, or a splendid throne. It is used to denote his character as a King and Judge, and to signify the great dignity and majesty which will be displayed by him. See Matt. xxiv. 30; xxvi. 64. Acts i. 11; xvii. 31. Sit upon twelve thrones.' This is figurative. To sit on a throne denotes power and honour; and means here that they should be distinguished above others, be more highly honoured and rewarded. Judging the twelve tribes of Israel.' As earthly kings have those around them dignified with honours and office, counsellors and judges, so Christ says his apostles shall occupy the same relative station in the great day. They shall be honoured by him, and by all, as apostles; as having in the face of persecution left all; as having laid the foundations of his church, and endured all the dreadful persecutions of the world. The twelve tribes of Israel.' This was the number of the ancient tribes. By this name the people of God were denoted. By this name Jesus here denotes his redeemed people. Among them Jesus says his apostles shall be honoured in the day of judgment,
as earthly kings place in posts of office and honour the counsellors and judges who have signally served them.
29 And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundred fold, and shall inherit everlasting life.
'Forsaken houses,' &c. In our times it does not often mean that we should literally leave them, except when the life is devoted to Christ among the heathen, but that we are to love them less than we do him; that we give up all that is inconsistent with religion; and be ready to give up all when he demands it. 'For my name's sake.' From attachment to me. Mark adds, and for the gospel's; that is, from obedience to the requirements of the gospel, and love for the service of the gospel. Shall receive a hundred fold.' Mark says, a hundred fold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters,' &c. 'A hundred fold' means a hundred times as much. It does not mean literally, but that he will give what will be worth a hundred times as much, in the peace, and joy, and rewards of religion. Mark adds, with persecutions.' These are not promised as a part of the reward; but amidst their trials and persecutions, they should find reward and peace. This is the testimony of all christians of all denominations; of all that have lived, and of all that do live; that they never knew true peace, till they found it in the gospel. The testimony of so many must be true. They have tried the world in all its forms of gaiety, folly, and vice, and they come and say with one voice, Here only is true peace. On any other subject, they would be believed. Their testimony here must be true.
30 But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.
This verse should have been connected with the following chapter. The parable there spoken is expressly to illustrate this sentiment. See its meaning, ch. xx. 16.
1 FOR the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard.
'For the kingdom of heaven,' &c. The word 'for' shows that this chapter should have been connected with the preceding. The parable was spoken expressly to illustrate the sentiment in the last verse of that chapter. The meaning may be thus expressed; Rewards shall be bestowed in my kingdom, or on my followers in the same manner as they were by a certain house
holder, in such a way as that the last shall be equal to the first, and the first last. A householder.' A master of a family. 'His vineyard.' A considerable part of Judea was employed in the culture of the grape. Vineyards are often used to represent a fertile or well cultivated place; and hence the church, denoting the care and culture that God has bestowed on it, Isa. v.7. Jer. xii. 10. For the manner of their formation, see Matt. XXI. 33.
2 And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard.
A penny a day.' See note on Matt. xviii. 28. It was probably at that time the price of a day's labour. This was the common wages of a Roman soldier. But provisions were of course proportionally cheap; and the value of a man's labour in articles of food was nearly as much as it is now.
3 And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the market-place, 4 And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right, I will give you. And they went their
About the third hour.' The Jews divided their days into twelve equal parts, or hours, beginning at sunrise, and ending at sunset. This was, therefore, about nine o'clock in the morning. Standing idle in the market-place.' Of course many resort to such places; and it would be the readiest place to meet persons, and find employers. They were waiting there to find employers.
"Whatsoever is right.' Whatsoever it shall appear you can earn. The contract with the first was definite; with these depended on the judgment of the employer.
5 Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise.
'The sixth and ninth hour.' That is, about twelve and three o'clock.
6 And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle? 7 They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive.
'The eleventh hour.' About five o'clock in the afternoon; or when there was but one working hour of the day left.
So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first.
'When even was come.' That is, when the twelfth hour was come; the day was ended, and the time of payment was come. " The steward.' He was one who had the administration of affairs in the absence of the householder; who provided for the family; and who was intrusted with the payment of labourers and others. He was commonly the most trusty and faithful of the servants, raised to that station as a reward for his fidelity. Beginning from the last unto the first.' It was immaterial where he began to pay, provided he dealt justly by them. In the parable, this order is mentioned to give opportunity for the remarks which follow. Had those first hired been first paid, they would have departed satisfied, and the point of the parable would have been lost.
9 And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny.
"They received every man a penny.' There was no agreement how much they should receive, but merely that justice should be done, ver. 4, 5, 7. The householder chose to make a present to them.
10 But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny.
They had worked longer; they had been in the heat; they supposed that it was his intention to pay them more than according to contract.
11 And when they had received it, they murmured against the good man of the house,
'The good man of the house.' That is, the householder. It is the old English way of denoting the father of a family.
12 Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day.
The burden' means the heavy labour, the severe toil. We have continued at that toil, in the heat of the day. The others had worked only a little while, and that in the cool of the evening, or while the sun was going down.
13 But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny ?
'Friend, I do thee no wrong.' I have exactly fulfilled the contract. We had an agreement; I have paid it all. If I choose to give a penny to another man if he labours little, or not at all; if I should choose to give all my property away to others, it would not affect this contract with you. It is fully met. with my own, with that on which you have no further claim, I may do as I please.
14 Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee.
Take what is justly due to you: what is
"Take that thine is.' properly your own.
15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?
The Hebrews used the word 'evil,' applied to the eye, to denote one envious and malicious, Deut. xv. 9. Prov. xxiii. 6. The eye is called evil in such cases, because envy and malice show themselves directly in the eye. No passions are so fully expressed by the eye as these. Does envy show itself in the eye; is thine eye so soon turned to express envy and malice, because I have chosen to do good?
16 So the last shall be first, and the first last for many be called, but few chosen.
This is the moral, or scope, of the parable. To teach this was it spoken. Many that, in the order of time, shall be brought last into the kingdom, shall be first in the rewards. To all justice shall be done. To all to whom the rewards of heaven were promised, they shall be given. If among this number who are called into the kingdom, I choose to raise some to stations of distinguished usefulness, and to confer on them peculiar talents and higher rewards, I injure no one else. If amidst the multitude of christians who live, and who shall live, I choose to signalize such men as Paul, and Brainerd, and Martyn; to appoint some of them to short labour, but to wide usefulness, and raise them to signal rewards, I injure not the great multitude of others who live long lives less useful, and less rewarded. All shall reach heaven, and all shall receive what I promise to the faithful. 'Many be called, but few chosen.' Many are called into my kingdom; they come and labour as I command; they are comparatively unknown and obscure. Yet they are real christians, and shall receive the proper reward. A few I have chosen for higher stations in the church, I have endowed them with apostolic gifts, or superior talents, or wider usefulness. They may not be so long in the vineyard; their race may be sooner run; but I have chosen to honour them in his manner, and I have a right to do it. Thus explained, this parable teaches that in the church, among the multitudes that shall be saved, Christ makes a differ