Give alms of such things as ye have - Meaning either what was within the dishes spoken of before; or what was within their houses or power: or what they had at hand, for so τα ενοντα is used by the purest Greek writers. Cease from rapine: far from spoiling the poor by wicked exactions, rather give them alms of every thing you possess; and when a part of every thing you have is sincerely consecrated to God for the use of the poor, then all that remains will be clean unto you; you will have the blessing of God in your basket and store, and every thing will be sanctified to you. These verses are very difficult, and are variously translated and interpreted by critics and divines. I have given what I believe to be our Lord's meaning, in the preceding paraphrase. For a description of the rapine, etc., of the Pharisees, see on Matthew 23:25; (note).
Alms - Charity. Benefactions to the poor.
Such things as ye have - Your property; though it has been gained unjustly: though you have lived by rapine, and have amassed wealth in an improper manner, yet, since “you have it,” it is your duty to make the best of it and do good. By giving to the poor, you may show your repentance for your crimes in amassing money in this manner. You may show that you disapprove of your former course of life, and are disposed henceforward to live honestly. If this be the meaning of this passage, then it shows what is the duty of those who have by unjust gains become wealthy, and who are “then” converted to God. It may not be possible for them in every case to make exact restitution to those whom they have injured; thousands of instances of wrong they may have forgotten; many persons whom they have injured may have died; but still they may show, by giving to others, that they do not think their gains acquired honestly, and that they truly repent. They may devote their property to God; distribute it to the poor; or give it to send the gospel to the heathen world. Thus may they show that they disapprove of their former conduct; and thus may be seen one great principle of God‘s government - “that good finally comes out of evil.”
And behold - Doing this will show that you are a true penitent, and the remainder of your property you will enjoy with a feeling that you have done your duty, and no longer be smitten with the consciousness of hoarding unjust gains. The object of the Saviour here seems to have been to bring the Pharisee to repentance. Repentance consists in sorrow for sin, and in forsaking it. This he endeavored to produce by showing him:
1.The “evil” and hypocrisy of his conduct; and,
2.By “exhorting” him to ““forsake” his sins, and to “show” this by doing good.
Thus doing, he would evince that the “mind” was clean as well the “body;” the “inside” as well as the “outside.”
How was it with the rebellious inhabitants of the antediluvian world? After rejecting the message of Noah, they plunged into sin with greater abandon than ever before, and doubled the enormity of their corrupting practices. Those who refuse to reform by accepting Christ find nothing reformative in sin; their minds are set to carry their spirit of revolt, and they are not, and never will be, forced to submission. The judgment which God brought upon the antediluvian world declared it incurable. The destruction of Sodom proclaimed the inhabitants of the most beautiful country in the world incorrigible in sin. The fire and brimstone from heaven consumed everything except Lot, his wife, and two daughters. The wife, looking back in disregard of God's command, became a pillar of salt. TM 75.1
How God bore with the Jewish nation while they were murmuring and rebellious, breaking the Sabbath and every other precept of the law! He repeatedly declared them worse than the heathen. Each generation surpassed the preceding in guilt. The Lord permitted them to go into captivity, but after their deliverance His requirements were forgotten. Everything that He committed to that people to be kept sacred was perverted or displaced by the inventions of rebellious men. Christ said to them in His day, “Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law?” And these were the men who set themselves up as judges and censors over those whom the Holy Spirit was moving to declare the word of God to the people. (See John 7:9-23, 27, 28; Luke 11:37-52.) TM 75.2Read in context »