In them is fulfilled - Αναπληρουται, Is Again fulfilled: this proper meaning of the Greek word has been generally overlooked. The evangelist means, that as these words were fulfilled in the Jews, in the time of the Prophet Isaiah, so they are now again fulfilled in these their posterity, who exactly copy their fathers example. These awful words may be again fulfilled in us, if we take not warning by the things which these disobedient people have suffered.
By hearing ye shall hear - Jesus Christ shall be sent to you, his miracles ye shall fully see, and his doctrines ye shall distinctly hear; but God will not force you to receive the salvation which is offered.
The mysteries of the kingdom - The word “mystery,” in the Bible, properly means a thing that is “concealed,” or that “has been concealed.” It does not mean that the thing was “incomprehensible,” or even difficult to be understood.
The thing might be “plain” enough if revealed, but it means simply that it “had” not been before made known. Thus the “mysteries of the kingdom” do not mean any doctrines incomprehensible in themselves considered, but simply doctrines about the preaching of the gospel and the establishment of the new kingdom of the Messiah, which “had not” been understood, and which were as yet concealed from the great body of the Jews. See Romans 16:25; Romans 11:25; Ephesians 3:3-4, Ephesians 3:9. Of this nature was the truth that the gospel was to be preached to the Gentiles; that the Jewish polity was to cease; that the Messiah was to die, etc. To the disciples it was given to know these truths. This was important for them, as they were to carry the gospel around the globe. To the others it was not “then” given. They were too gross, too earthly; they had too, grovelling conceptions of the Messiah‘s kingdom to understand these truths, even if communicated to them. They were not to preach the gospel, and hence our Saviour was at particular pains to instruct his apostles in the system which they were to preach. The Pharisees, and Jews generally, were not prepared to receive the system, and would not have believed it, and therefore he purposely employed a kind of teaching which was intended for his apostles only.
Whosoever hath - This is a proverbial method of speaking.
It means that a man who improves what light, grace, and opportunities he has, shall have them increased. From him that improves them not, it is proper that they should be taken away. The Jews had many opportunities of learning the truth, and some light still lingered among them; but they were gross and sensual, and misimproved them, and it was a just judgment that they should be deprived of them. Superior knowledge was given to the disciples of Christ: they improved it, however slowly, and the promise was that it should be greatly increased.
Matthew simply states the “fact,” that though they saw the “natural” meaning of the story - though they literally understood the parable - yet they did not understand its “spiritual” signification. Mark and Luke do not state the “fact,” but affirm that he spoke with this “intention” - implying that such “was” the result. Nor was there any dishonesty in this, or any unfair disguise. He had truths to state which he wished his “disciples particularly” to understand. They were of great importance to their ministry. Had he clearly and fully stated them to the Jews, they would have taken his life long before they did. He therefore chose to state the doctrines so that if their hearts had been right, and if they had not been malignant and blind, “they might have understood them.” His doctrines he stated in the best possible way, and it was not his fault if they did not understand him. By little and little, in this way, he prepared many even of the Jews to receive the truth; by the only possible way of ever gaining access to their minds. It was, moreover, entirely proper and right to impart instruction to his disciples which he did not “intend” for others.
And in them is fulfilled - This place is quoted substantially from Isaiah 6:9-10. It was literally fulfilled in the time of Isaiah. In the time of Christ the people had the same character. Like them, they closed their eyes upon the truth, and rejected the divine teaching. The words of Isaiah were therefore “as well fitted” to express the character of the people in the time of Christ as in that of the prophet. In this sense they were “fulfilled,” or “filled up;” that is, “a case occurred that corresponded to their meaning.” See the notes at Matthew 1:22. It is not by any means intended that Isaiah, when he spoke these words, had any reference to the time of Christ. The meaning in both places is, that the people were so gross, sensual, and prejudiced, that they “would” not see the truth, or understand anything that was contrary to their grovelling opinions and sensual desires; a case by no means uncommon in the world. See the passage more fully explained in my notes at Matthew 13:16
Blessed are your eyes - That is, you are happy that you are permitted to see truth which they will not see.
You are permitted to understand the spiritual meaning of the parables, and in some degree the plan of salvation.
Many prophets and righteous men - They wished to see the times of the Messiah.
They looked to it as a time when the hopes of the world would be fulfilled, and when the righteous would be happy, John 8:56. “Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it and was glad.” Compare also 1 Peter 1:10-12; Hebrews 11:13. So Isaiah and the prophets looked forward to the coming of the Messiah as the consummation of their wishes and the end of the prophecies, Revelation 19:10. The object always dearest to the hearts of all righteous people is to witness the coming and advancement of the kingdom of Christ. Compare Revelation 22:20.
In new fields no work is so successful as medical missionary work. If our ministers would work earnestly to obtain an education in medical missionary lines, they would be far better fitted to do the work Christ did as a medical missionary. By diligent study and practice, they can become so well acquainted with the principles of health reform, that wherever they go they will be a great blessing to the people they meet.—Medical Ministry, 239. CME 43.1Read in context »
It is the close connection with God which opens and makes quick and sharp the understanding. Men in Christ's day brought upon themselves that blindness that in seeing they see not and the willful deafness that in hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. Jesus told them that there was no reason for them to be surprised at what He had stated in regard to their unbelief, for Isaiah had predicted the same [Matthew 13:13-15 quoted].... TDG 361.4Read in context »
So wide was Christ's view of truth, so extended His teaching, that every phase of nature was employed in illustrating truth. The scenes upon which the eye daily rests were all connected with some spiritual truth, so that nature is clothed with the parables of the Master. COL 20.1
In the earlier part of His ministry, Christ had spoken to the people in words so plain that all His hearers might have grasped truths which would make them wise unto salvation. But in many hearts the truth had taken no root, and it had been quickly caught away. “Therefore speak I to them in parables,” He said; “because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.... For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed.” Matthew 13:13-15. COL 20.2
Jesus desired to awaken inquiry. He sought to arouse the careless, and impress truth upon the heart. Parable teaching was popular, and commanded the respect and attention, not only of the Jews, but of the people of other nations. No more effective method of instruction could He have employed. If His hearers had desired a knowledge of divine things, they might have understood His words; for He was always willing to explain them to the honest inquirer. COL 20.3Read in context »
This “is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it.” The Pharisees of Christ's day closed their eyes lest they should see, and their ears lest they should hear; therefore the truth could not reach their hearts. They were to suffer retribution for their willful ignorance and self-imposed blindness. But Christ taught His disciples that they were to open their minds to instruction, and be ready to believe. He pronounced a blessing upon them because they saw and heard with eyes and ears that believed. COL 59.1
The good-ground hearer receives the word “not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God.” 1 Thessalonians 2:13. Only he who receives the Scriptures as the voice of God speaking to himself is a true learner. He trembles at the word; for to him it is a living reality. He opens his understanding and his heart to receive it. Such hearers were Cornelius and his friends, who said to the apostle Peter, “Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God.” Acts 10:33. COL 59.2
A knowledge of the truth depends not so much upon strength of intellect as upon pureness of purpose, the simplicity of an earnest, dependent faith. To those who in humility of heart seek for divine guidance, angels of God draw near. The Holy Spirit is given to open to them the rich treasures of the truth. COL 59.3Read in context »