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Matthew 11:19

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

The Son of man came eating and drinking - That is, went wheresoever he was invited to eat a morsel of bread, and observed no rigid fasts: how could he, who had no corrupt appetites to mortify or subdue?

They say, Behold a man gluttonous, etc. - Whatever measures the followers of God may take, they will not escape the censure of the world: the best way is not to be concerned at them. Iniquity, being always ready to oppose and contradict the Divine conduct, often contradicts and exposes itself.

But wisdom is justified of her children - Those who follow the dictates of true wisdom ever justify, point out as excellent, the holy maxims by which they are guided, for they find the way pleasantness, and the path, peace. Of, here, and in many places of our translation, ought to be written by in modern English. Some suppose that our blessed Lord applies the epithet of η σοφια, that Wisdom to himself; as he does that of Son of man, in the first clause of the verse: and that this refers to the sublime description given of wisdom in Proverbs 8. Others have supposed that by the children or sons (τεκνων ) of wisdom our Lord means John Baptist and himself, who came to preach the doctrines of true wisdom to the people, and who were known to be teachers come from God by all those who seriously attended to their ministry: they recommending themselves, by the purity of their doctrines, and the holiness of their lives, to every man's conscience in the sight of God. It is likely, however, that by children our Lord simply means the fruits or effects of wisdom, according to the Hebrew idiom, which denominates the fruits or effects of a thing, its children. So in Job 5:7, sparks emitted by coals are termed רשף בני beney resheph, the children of the coal. It was probably this well known meaning of the word, which led the Codex Vaticanus, one of the most ancient MSS. in the world, together with the Syriac, Persic, Coptic, and Ethiopic, to read εργων, works, instead of τεκνων, sons or children. Wisdom is vindicated by her works, i.e. the good effects prove that the cause is excellent.

The children of true wisdom can justify all God's ways in their salvation; as they know that all the dispensations of Providence work together for the good of those who love and fear God. See on Luke 7:35; (note).

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible
Verses 16-19

But whereunto shall I liken … - Christ proceeds to reprove the inconsistency and fickleness of that age of people. He says they were like children - nothing pleased them. He refers here to the “plays” or “sports” of children. Instrumental music, or piping and dancing, were used in marriages and festivals as a sign of joy. See the notes at Isaiah 5:11-12. Compare Job 21:11; 2 Samuel 6:14; Judges 11:34; Luke 15:25. Children imitate their parents and others, and act over in play what they see done by others. Among their childish sports, therefore, was probably an imitation of a wedding or festal occasion. We have seen also (the notes at Matthew 9:23) that funerals were attended with mournful music, and lamentation, and howling. It is not improbable that children also, in play: imitated a mournful funeral procession. One part are represented as sullen and dissatisfied. They would not enter into the play: nothing pleased them. The others complained of it. We have, said they, taken all pains to please you. We have piped to you, have played lively tunes, and have engaged in cheerful sports, but you would not join with us; and then we have played different games, and imitated the mourning at funerals, and you are equally sullen; “you have not lamented;” you have not joked with us. Nothing pleases you. So, said Christ, is this generation of people. “John” came one way, “neither eating nor drinking,” abstaining as a Nazarite, and you were not pleased with him. I, the Son of man, have come in a different manner, “eating and drinking;” not practicing any austerity, but living like other people, and you are equally dissatisfied - nay, you are less pleased. You calumniate him, and abuse me for not doing the very thing which displeased you in John. Nothing pleases you. You are fickle, changeable, inconstant, and abusive.

Markets - Places to sell provisions; places of concourse, where also children flocked together for play.

We have piped - We have played on musical instruments. A “pipe” was a wind instrument of music often used by shepherds.

Neither eating nor drinking - That is, abstaining from some kinds of food and wine, as a Nazarite. It does not mean that he did not eat at all, but that he was remarkable for abstinence.

He hath a devil - He is actuated by a bad spirit. He is irregular, strange, and cannot be a good man.

The Son of man came eating and drinking - That is, living as others do; not practicing austerity; and they accuse him of being fond of excess, and seeking the society of the wicked.

Gluttonous - One given to excessive eating.

Wine-bibber - One who drinks much wine. Jesus undoubtedly lived according to the general customs of the people of his time. He did not affect singularity; he did not separate himself as a Nazarite; he did not practice severe austerities. He ate that which was common and drank that which was common. As wine was a common article of beverage among the people, he drank it. It was the pure juice of the grape, and for anything that can be proved, it was without fermentation. In regard to the kind of wine which was used, see the notes at John 2:10. No one should plead the example, at any rate, in favor of making use of the wines that are commonly used in this country - wines, many of which are manufactured here, and without a particle of the pure juice of the grape, and most of which are mixed with noxious drugs to give them color and flavor.

Wisdom is justified of her children - The children of wisdom are the wise - those who understand. The Saviour means that though that generation of Pharisees and fault-finders did not appreciate the conduct of John and himself, yet the “wise,” the candid - those who understood the reasons of their conduct - would approve of and do justice to it.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Christ reflects on the scribes and Pharisees, who had a proud conceit of themselves. He likens their behaviour to children's play, who being out of temper without reason, quarrel with all the attempts of their fellows to please them, or to get them to join in the plays for which they used to assemble. The cavils of worldly men are often very trifling and show great malice. Something they have to urge against every one, however excellent and holy. Christ, who was undefiled, and separate from sinners, is here represented as in league with them, and polluted by them. The most unspotted innocence will not always be a defence against reproach. Christ knew that the hearts of the Jews were more bitter and hardened against his miracles and doctrines, than those of Tyre and Sidon would have been; therefore their condemnation would be the greater. The Lord exercises his almighty power, yet he punishes none more than they deserve, and never withholds the knowledge of the truth from those who long after it.
Ellen G. White
The Desire of Ages, 214-20

This chapter is based on Matthew 11:1-11; Matthew 14:1-11; Mark 6:17-28; Luke 7:19-28.

John the Baptist had been first in heralding Christ's kingdom, and he was first also in suffering. From the free air of the wilderness and the vast throngs that had hung upon his words, he was now shut in by the walls of a dungeon cell. He had become a prisoner in the fortress of Herod Antipas. In the territory east of Jordan, which was under the dominion of Antipas, much of John's ministry had been spent. Herod himself had listened to the preaching of the Baptist. The dissolute king had trembled under the call to repentance. “Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy; ... and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly.” John dealt with him faithfully, denouncing his iniquitous alliance with Herodias, his brother's wife. For a time Herod feebly sought to break the chain of lust that bound him; but Herodias fastened him the more firmly in her toils, and found revenge upon the Baptist by inducing Herod to cast him into prison. DA 214.1

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Ellen G. White
The Desire of Ages, 275-6

When the rabbis learned of the presence of Jesus at Matthew's feast, they seized the opportunity of accusing Him. But they chose to work through the disciples. By arousing their prejudices they hoped to alienate them from their Master. It was their policy to accuse Christ to the disciples, and the disciples to Christ, aiming their arrows where they would be most likely to wound. This is the way in which Satan has worked ever since the disaffection in heaven; and all who try to cause discord and alienation are actuated by his spirit. DA 275.1

“Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?” questioned the envious rabbis. DA 275.2

Jesus did not wait for His disciples to answer the charge, but Himself replied: “They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” The Pharisees claimed to be spiritually whole, and therefore in no need of a physician, while they regarded the publicans and Gentiles as perishing from diseases of the soul. Then was it not His work, as a physician, to go to the very class that needed His help? DA 275.3

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