Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Matthew 12:18

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Behold my servant - This title was given to our blessed Lord in several prophecies. See Isaiah 42:1; Isaiah 53:2. Christ assumes it, Psalm 40:7-9. Compare these with John 17:4, and Philemon 2:7. God required an acceptable and perfect service from man; but man, being sinful, could not perform it. Jesus, taking upon him the nature of man, fully performed the whole will of God, and communicates grace to all his followers, to enable them perfectly to love and worthily to magnify their Maker.

And he shall show judgment to the Gentiles - That is, He will publish the Gospel to the heathens; for the word κρισιν here answers to the word משפט mishpat of the prophet, and it is used among the Hebrews to signify laws, precepts, and a whole system or body of doctrine. See Psalm 19:9; Psalm 119:30, Psalm 119:39; Isaiah 58:2.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible
Verses 14-21

This account is found also in Mark 3:6-12.

Matthew 12:14

The Pharisees … held a council … - Mark adds that the Herodians also took a part in this plot. They were probably a “political” party attached firmly to Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Great, tetrarch of Galilee. He was the same man who had imprisoned and beheaded John the Baptist, and to whom the Saviour, when arraigned, was sent by Pilate. See the notes at Luke 3:1. He was under Roman authority, and was a strong advocate of Roman power. All the friends of the family of Herod were opposed to Christ, and ever ready to join any plot against his life. They remembered, doubtless, the attempts of Herod the Great against him when he was the babe of Bethlehem, and they were stung with the memory of the escape of Jesus from his bloody hands. The attempt against him now, on the part of the Pharisees, was the effect of “envy.” They hated his popularity, they were losing their influence, and they therefore resolved to take him out of the way.

Matthew 12:15

But when Jesus knew it, he withdrew himself … - He knew of the plot which they had formed against his life; but his hour was not yet come, and he therefore sought security.

By remaining, his presence would only have provoked them further and endangered his own life. He acted, therefore, the part of prudence and withdrew. Compare the notes at Matthew 10:23.

Mark adds that he withdrew “to the sea;” that is, to the Sea of Galilee. or Tiberias. He states also Matthew 3:7-8 that “a great multitude from Galilee followed him, and from Judea, and from Jerusalem, and from Idumea, and from beyond Jordan; and they about Tyre and Sidon, a great multitude, when they heard what great things he did, came unto him.” As some of these places were without the limits of Judea or inhabited by “Gentiles,” this statement of Mark throws light on the passage quoted by Matthew Matthew 12:21, “In his name shall the Gentiles trust.”

Pressed by the crowd Mark 3:9, Jesus went aboard a “small vessel,” or “boat,” called by Mark a “ship.” This he did for the convenience of being separated from them and more easily addressing them. We are to suppose the lake still and calm; the multitudes, most of whom were sick and diseased, on the shore and pressing to the water‘s edge; and Jesus thus healing their diseases, and preaching to them the good news of salvation. No scene could be more sublime than this.

Matthew 12:16

And he charged them … - He was “at this time” desirous of concealment.

He wished to avoid their plots and to save his life.

Matthew 12:17

That it might be fulfilled … - Matthew here quotes a passage from Isaiah 42:1-4, to show the “reason why he thus retired from his enemies and sought concealment.” The Jews, and the disciples also at first, expected that the Messiah would be a conqueror, and vindicate himself from all his enemies. When they saw him retiring before them, and, instead of subduing them by force, seeking a place of concealment, it was contrary to all their previous notions of the Messiah. Matthew by this quotation shows that “their” conceptions of him had been wrong. Instead of a warrior and an earthly conqueror, he was “predicted” under a totally different character. Instead of shouting for battle, lifting up his voice in the streets, oppressing the feeble - “breaking bruised reeds and quenching smoking flax, as a conqueror” - he would be peaceful, retiring; would strengthen the feeble, and would cherish the faintest desires of holiness. This appears to be the general meaning of this quotation here. Compare the notes at Isaiah 42:1-4.

Matthew 12:18

My servant - That is, the Messiah, the Lord Jesus; called a servant from his taking the “form” of a “servant,” or his being born in a humble condition Philemon 2:7, and from his obeying or “serving” God. See Hebrews 10:9.

Shall show judgment to the Gentiles - The word “judgment” means, in the Hebrew, law, “commands, etc.,” Psalm 19:9; Psalm 119:29-30. It means the “whole system of truth;” the law of God in general; the purpose, plan, or “judgment” of God about human duty and conduct. Here it means, evidently, the system of “gospel truth,” the Christian scheme.

Gentiles - All who were not Jews. This prophecy was fulfilled by the multitudes coming to him from Idumea and beyond Jordan, and from Tyre and Sidon, as recorded by Mark 3:7-8.

Matthew 12:19

He shall not strive … - He shall not shout as a warrior.

He shall be meek, retiring, and peaceful. Streets were places of concourse. The meaning is, that he should not seek publicity and popularity.

Matthew 12:20

A bruised reed … - The reed is an emblem of feebleness, as well as of fickleness or want of stability, Matthew 11:7. A bruised, broken reed is an emblem of the poor and oppressed. It means that he would not oppress the feeble and poor, as victorious warriors and conquerors did. It is also an expressive emblem of the soul broken and contrite on account of sin; weeping and mourning for transgression. He will not break it; that is, he will not be severe, unforgiving, and cruel. He will heal it, pardon it, and give it strength.

Smoking flax - This refers to the wick of a lamp when the oil is exhausted - the dying, flickering flame and smoke that hang over it. It is an emblem, also, of feebleness and infirmity. He would not further oppress those who had a little strength; he would not put out hope and life when it seemed to be almost extinct. He would not be like the Pharisees, proud and overbearing, and trampling down the poor. It is expressive, also, of the languishing graces of the people of God. He will not treat them harshly or unkindly, but will cherish the feeble flame, minister the “oil” of grace, and kindle it into a blaze.

Till he send forth judgment unto victory - “Judgment” here means truth - the truth of God, the gospel. It shall be victorious - it shall not be vanquished. Though the Messiah is not “such” a conqueror as the Jews expected, yet he “shall” conquer. Though mild and retiring, yet he will be victorious.

Matthew 12:21

And in his name … - The Hebrew in Isaiah is, “And the isles shall wait for his law.” The idea is, however, the same.

The “isles” denote the Gentiles, or a part of the Gentiles - those out of Judea. The meaning is, that the gospel should be preached to the Gentiles, and that they should receive it. See the notes at Isaiah 41:1 for an explanation of the word “islands,” as it is used in the Bible.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
The Pharisees took counsel to find some accusation, that Jesus might be condemned to death. Aware of their design, as his time was not come, he retired from that place. Face does not more exactly answer to face in water, than the character of Christ drawn by the prophet, to his temper and conduct as described by the evangelists. Let us with cheerful confidence commit our souls to so kind and faithful a Friend. Far from breaking, he will strengthen the bruised reed; far from quenching the smoking flax, or wick nearly out, he will rather blow it up into a flame. Let us lay aside contentious and angry debates; let us receive one another as Christ receives us. And while encouraged by the gracious kindness of our Lord, we should pray that his Spirit may rest upon us, and make us able to copy his example.
Ellen G. White
Selected Messages Book 3, 267.2

Congregation Kneels After Standing in Consecration—The Spirit of the Lord rested upon me, and was revealed in the words that were given me to speak. I asked those present who felt the urgency of the Spirit of God, and who were willing to pledge themselves to live the truth and to teach the truth to others, and to work for their salvation, to make it manifest by rising to their feet. I was surprised to see the whole congregation rise. I then asked all to kneel down, and I sent up my petition to heaven for that people. I was deeply impressed by this experience. I felt the deep moving of the Spirit of God upon me, and I know that the Lord gave me a special message for His people at this time.—The Review and Herald, March 11, 1909. 3SM 267.2

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Ellen G. White
Selected Messages Book 3, 270.1

[Praying] I thank Thee, Lord God of Israel. Accept this pledge of this Thy people. Put Thy Spirit upon them. Let Thy glory be seen in them. As they shall speak the word of truth, let us see the salvation of God. Amen.—The General Conference Bulletin, May 18, 1909. 3SM 270.1

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 127-8

Take up your appointed work. The Lord will fulfill the promise on His part. These inspired scriptures would never have been given to you if the Lord had not had confidence that you could do all that He has required. You can heed the invitation, “Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” TM 127.1

You may rise to the heights to which the Holy Spirit calls you. True religion means living the word in your practical life. Your profession is not of any value without the practical doing of the word. “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” This is the condition of discipleship. “Behold My Servant, whom I have chosen; My Beloved, in whom My soul is well pleased: I will put My Spirit upon Him, and He shall show judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear His voice in the streets. A bruised reed shall He not break, and smoking flax shall He not quench, till He send forth judgment unto victory. And in His name shall the Gentiles trust.” TM 127.2

Thank God that a work is being done outside of the church. The church has not been properly educated to work outside of their own people. Many souls out of the church might have been enlightened, and a great deal more light brought into the church, if every church member in every country, who claims to have the advanced light of truth, had worked with heart and soul and voice to win souls to the truth. Altogether too little work is being done by church members for those who need the light, those who are outside of the church of Seventh-day Adventists. The Lord declares: “A bruised reed shall He not break, and smoking flax shall He not quench, till He send forth judgment unto victory. And in His name shall the Gentiles trust.” Those who cooperate with Jesus Christ will realize that all these promises are fulfilled in their own experience. The Lord has pointed out the duty of every soul. In the judgment no one will have any excuse to present for not doing his duty. TM 127.3

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