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Matthew Chapter Twelve


Matthew 12

At length the rejection of the nation, in consequence of their contempt of the Lord, is plainly shewn, as well as the cessation of all His relations with them as such, in order to bring out on God's part an entirely different system, that is to say, the kingdom in a particular form. Thus this last chapter is the great turning-point of the whole history. Christ is a divine witness to Himself, and John Baptist has so to receive Him, as another would. He stood no longer as Messiah witnessed to, but as Son of God, but gives His full testimony to John. But the nation had rejected God manifested in warnings and grace alike: only there was a remnant. Wisdom was justified of her children. Then comes His submission to His rejection, evil as it might be, as the Father's will; but this leads Him out into the consciousness of His personal glory, the real ground of that rejection. All things were delivered to Him of His Father. None could know Him, nor any the Father unless He revealed Him. The whole world, tested by His perfection, was found lying in wickedness (though with a spared remnant), but man was universally away from God. He looked down from heaven to see, as we read, but they were all gone out of the way, none righteous, no, not one. So Jesus, as He walked on the sea, stood alone in a judged world, judged by His rejection, but now in the sovereign grace of the Father, as the Son revealing Him, and calling to the revelation of this grace in Himself. This is just now the new position. He had tried man. The very thing that He was, hindered their receiving Him. Now he that was weary must come to Him who stood thus alone, and He would give them rest. They must learn of Him who thus had absolutely submitted, and they would have rest as to the world and everything here. So with us: where we wholly bow, we come into the conscious possession of our privileges as disowned, on the heavenly and higher ground.

The first circumstance that brought forward the question of His Person, and of His right to close the dispensation, was the disciples' plucking the ears of corn and crushing them in their hands to satisfy their hunger. For this the Pharisees rebuke them, because it was on a Sabbath day. Jesus sets before them that the king, rejected by the malice of Saul, had partaken of that which was only given to the priests. The Son of David, in a similar case, might well enjoy a similar privilege. Besides God was acting in grace. The priest also profaned the Sabbath in the service of the temple; and One greater than the temple was there. Moreover, if they had really known the mind of God, if they had been imbued with the Spirit which His word declared to be acceptable to Him-"I will have mercy and not sacrifice," they would not have condemned the guiltless. In addition to this, the Son of man was Lord even of the Sabbath. Here He no longer takes the title of Messiah, but that of Son of man-a name which bore witness to a new order of things, and to a more extended power. Now that which He said had great significance; for the Sabbath was the token of the covenant between Jehovah and the nation (Ezek. 20:12-20); and the Son of man was declaring His power over it. If that was touched, it was all over with the covenant.

The same question arises in the synagogue; and the Lord persists in acting in grace, and in doing good, shewing them that they would do the same for one of their sheep. This only excites their hatred, great as was the proof of His beneficent power. They were children of the murderer. Jesus withdraws from them, and great multitudes follow Him. He heals them, charging them not to make Him known. In all this however His doings were but the fulfilment of a prophecy which clearly traces out the Lord's position at this time. The hour would come when He should bring forth judgment unto victory. Meanwhile He retained the position of entire lowliness, in which grace and truth could commend themselves to those who appreciated and needed them. But in the exercise of this grace, and in His testimony to the truth, He would do nothing to falsify this character, or so to attract the attention of men as to prevent His true work, or which could make it even suspected that He sought His own honour. Nevertheless the Spirit of Jehovah was upon Him as His beloved, in whom His soul delighted; and He should declare judgment to the Gentiles, and they should put their trust in His name. The application of this prophecy to Jesus at that moment is very evident. We see how guarded He was with the Jews, abstaining from the gratification of their carnal desires respecting Himself, and content to be in the background, if God His Father was glorified; and glorifying Him perfectly Himself on the earth by doing good. He was soon to be declared to the Gentiles; whether by the execution of the judgment of God, or by presenting Himself to them as the One in whom they should trust.

This passage is manifestly placed here by the Holy Ghost, in order to give the exact representation of His position, before laying open the new scenes which His rejection prepares for us.

He then casts out a devil from a man who was blind and dumb-a sad condition, truly depicting that of the people with respect to God. The multitude, full of admiration, exclaim, "Is not this the Son of David?" But the religionists, on hearing it, jealous of the Lord, and hostile to the testimony of God, declare that Jesus wrought this miracle by the power of Beelzebub, thus sealing their own condition, and putting themselves under the definitive judgment of God. Jesus demonstrates the absurdity of what they had said. Satan would not destroy his own kingdom. Their own children, who had the pretension to do the same, should judge their iniquity. But if not the power of Satan (and the Pharisees admitted that the devils were really cast out), it was the finger of God, and the kingdom of God was among them.

He who had come into the strong man's house to spoil his goods had first to bind him.

The truth is that the presence of Jesus put everything to the test; everything on God's part was centred in Him. It is Emmanuel Himself who was there. He who was not with Him was against Him. He who did not gather with Him scattered. Everything now depended on Him alone. He would bear with all unbelief as to His own Person. Grace could remove that. He could pardon all sin; but to speak against and blaspheme the Holy Ghost (that is, to acknowledge the exercise of a power, which is that of God, and to attribute it to Satan) could not be pardoned; for the Pharisees admitted that the devil was cast out, and it was only with malice, with open-eyed deliberate hatred to God, that they attributed it to Satan. And what pardon could there be for this? There was none either in the age of the law [1] or in that of the Messiah. The fate of those who thus acted was decided. This the Lord would have them understand. The fruit proved the nature of the tree. It was essentially bad. They were a generation of vipers. John had told them the same. Their words condemned them. Upon this the scribes and Pharisees asked for a sign. This was nothing but wickedness. They had had signs enough. It was only stirring up the unbelief of the rest.

This request gives the Lord occasion to pronounce the judgment of this generation.

There should be only the sign of Jonah for this evil generation. As Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the fish, so should the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. But then lo! Christ was already rejected.

The Ninevites by their conduct should condemn this generation in the day of judgment, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and a greater than Jonah was here. The queen of the south likewise testified against the wickedness of this perverse generation. Her heart attracted by the report of Solomon's wisdom, had led her to him from the uttermost parts of the earth; and a greater than Solomon was here. Poor ignorant Gentiles understood the wisdom of God in His word, whether by the prophet or the king, better than His beloved people, even when the Great King and Prophet was among them.

This was then His judgment: the unclean spirit (of idolatry) which had gone out of the people, finding no rest away from Israel (alas! its true house, whereas they ought to have been the house of God), should return with seven spirits worse than itself. They would find the house empty, swept, and garnished; and the last state should be worse than the first. What a solemn judgment of the people was this-that those among whom Jehovah had walked should become the habitation of an unclean spirit, of a superabundance of unclean spirits; not merely of seven, the complete number, but together with these (who would incite them all to madness against God and those who honoured God, thus leading them to their own destruction) that other unclean spirit also, who would draw them back into the wretched idolatry from which they had escaped! Israel's judgment was pronounced.

In conclusion Jesus publicly breaks the bonds that naturally existed between Himself and the people after the flesh, acknowledging those only which were formed by the word of God, and manifested by doing the will of His Father which was in heaven. Those persons only would He acknowledge as His relations, who were formed after the pattern of the sermon on the Mount.

His actions and His words after this bear witness to the new work which He was really doing on the earth. He leaves (chap. 13) the house and sits beside the lake. He takes a new position outside, to proclaim to the multitude that which was His true work. A sower went forth to sow.


[1] Take notice of this expression. We see the manner in which the Holy Ghost passes on from the time then present to the Jews, which would soon end, to the time when the Messiah would set up His kingdom, their "world [age] to come." We have a position outside all this, during the suspension of the public establishment of the kingdom. The apostles even did but preach or announce it; they did not establish it. Their miracles were "the powers of the age to come" (compare 1 Peter 1:11-13). This, as we shall see by-and-by, is of great importance. Thus also with regard to the new covenant, of which Paul was the minister; and yet he did not establish it with Judah and Israel.

── John DarbySynopsis of Matthew


Matthew 12

Chapter Contents

Jesus defends his disciples for plucking corn on the sabbath day. (1-8) Jesus heals a man with a withered hand on the sabbath. (9-13) The malice of the Pharisees. (14-21) Jesus heals a demoniac. (22-30) Blasphemy of the Pharisees. (31,32) Evil words proceed from an evil heart. (33-37) The scribes and Pharisees reproved for seeking a sign. (38-45) The disciples of Christ are his nearest relations. (46-50)

Commentary on Matthew 12:1-8

(Read Matthew 12:1-8)

Being in the corn-fields, the disciples began to pluck the ears of corn: the law of God allowed it, Deuteronomy 23:25. This was slender provision for Christ and his disciples; but they were content with it. The Pharisees did not quarrel with them for taking another man's corn, but for doing it on the sabbath day. Christ came to free his followers, not only from the corruptions of the Pharisees, but from their unscriptural rules, and justified what they did. The greatest shall not have their lusts indulged, but the meanest shall have their wants considered. Those labours are lawful on the sabbath day which are necessary, and sabbath rest is to froward, not to hinder sabbath worship. Needful provision for health and food is to be made; but when servants are kept at home, and families become a scene of hurry and confusion on the Lord's day, to furnish a feast for visitors, or for indulgence, the case is very different. Such things as these, and many others common among professors, are to be blamed. The resting on the sabbath was ordained for man's good, Deuteronomy 5:14. No law must be understood so as to contradict its own end. And as Christ is the Lord of the sabbath, it is fit the day and the work of it should be dedicated to him.

Commentary on Matthew 12:9-13

(Read Matthew 12:9-13)

Christ shows that works of mercy are lawful and proper to be done on the Lord's day. There are more ways of doing well upon sabbath days, than by the duties of worship: attending the sick, relieving the poor, helping those who need speedy relief, teaching the young to care for their souls; these are doing good: and these must be done from love and charity, with humility and self-denial, and shall be accepted, Genesis 4:7. This, like other cures which Christ wrought, had a spiritual meaning. By nature our hands are withered, and we are unable of ourselves to do any thing that is good. Christ only, by the power of his grace, cures us; he heals the withered hand by putting life into the dead soul, works in us both to will and to do: for, with the command, there is a promise of grace given by the word.

Commentary on Matthew 12:14-21

(Read Matthew 12:14-21)

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.

Commentary on Matthew 12:22-30

(Read Matthew 12:22-30)

A soul under Satan's power, and led captive by him, is blind in the things of God, and dumb at the throne of grace; sees nothing, and says nothing to the purpose. Satan blinds the eyes by unbelief, and seals up the lips from prayer. The more people magnified Christ, the more desirous the Pharisees were to vilify him. It was evident that if Satan aided Jesus in casting out devils, the kingdom of hell was divided against itself; how then could it stand! And if they said that Jesus cast out devils by the prince of the devils, they could not prove that their children cast them out by any other power. There are two great interests in the world; and when unclean spirits are cast out by the Holy Spirit, in the conversion of sinners to a life of faith and obedience, the kingdom of God is come unto us. All who do not aid or rejoice in such a change are against Christ.

Commentary on Matthew 12:31,32

(Read Matthew 12:31,32)

Here is a gracious assurance of the pardon of all sin upon gospel terms. Christ herein has set an example to the sons of men, to be ready to forgive words spoken against them. But humble and conscientious believers, at times are tempted to think they have committed the unpardonable sin, while those who have come the nearest to it, seldom have any fear about it. We may be sure that those who indeed repent and believe the gospel, have not committed this sin, or any other of the same kind; for repentance and faith are the special gifts of God, which he would not bestow on any man, if he were determined never to pardon him; and those who fear they have committed this sin, give a good sign that they have not. The trembling, contrite sinner, has the witness in himself that this is not his case.

Commentary on Matthew 12:33-37

(Read Matthew 12:33-37)

Men's language discovers what country they are of, likewise what manner of spirit they are of. The heart is the fountain, words are the streams. A troubled fountain, and a corrupt spring, must send forth muddy and unpleasant streams. Nothing but the salt of grace, cast into the spring, will heal the waters, season the speech, and purify the corrupt communication. An evil man has an evil treasure in his heart, and out of it brings forth evil things. Lusts and corruptions, dwelling and reigning in the heart, are an evil treasure, out of which the sinner brings forth bad words and actions, to dishonour God, and hurt others. Let us keep constant watch over ourselves, that we may speak words agreeable to the Christian character.

Commentary on Matthew 12:38-45

(Read Matthew 12:38-45)

Though Christ is always ready to hear and answer holy desires and prayers, yet those who ask amiss, ask and have not. Signs were granted to those who desired them to confirm their faith, as Abraham and Gideon; but denied to those who demanded them to excuse their unbelief. The resurrection of Christ from the dead by his own power, called here the sign of the prophet Jonah, was the great proof of Christ's being the Messiah. As Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale, and then came out again alive, thus Christ would be so long in the grave, and then rise again. The Ninevites would shame the Jews for not repenting; the queen of Sheba, for not believing in Christ. And we have no such cares to hinder us, we come not to Christ upon such uncertainties. This parable represents the case of the Jewish church and nation. It is also applicable to all those who hear the word of God, and are in part reformed, but not truly converted. The unclean spirit leaves for a time, but when he returns, he finds Christ is not there to shut him out; the heart is swept by outward reformation, but garnished by preparation to comply with evil suggestions, and the man becomes a more decided enemy of the truth. Every heart is the residence of unclean spirits, except those which are temples of the Holy Ghost, by faith in Christ.

Commentary on Matthew 12:46-50

(Read Matthew 12:46-50)

Christ's preaching was plain, easy, and familiar, and suited to his hearers. His mother and brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him, when they should have been standing within, desiring to hear him. Frequently, those who are nearest to the means of knowledge and grace are most negligent. We are apt to neglect that which we think we may have any day, forgetting that to-morrow is not ours. We often meet with hinderances in our work from friends about us, and are taken off by care for the things of this life, from the concerns of our souls. Christ was so intent on his work, that no natural or other duty took him from it. Not that, under pretence of religion, we may be disrespectful to parents, or unkind to relations; but the lesser duty must stand by, while the greater is done. Let us cease from men, and cleave to Christ; let us look upon every Christian, in whatever condition of life, as the brother, sister, or mother of the Lord of glory; let us love, respect, and be kind to them, for his sake, and after his example.

── Matthew HenryConcise Commentary on Matthew


Matthew 12

Verse 3

[3] But he said unto them, Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with him;

Have ye not read what David did — And necessity was a sufficient plea for his transgressing the law in a higher instance.

Verse 4

[4] How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests?

He entered into the house of God — Into the tabernacle. The temple was not yet built.

The show bread — So they called the bread which the priest, who served that week, put every Sabbath day on the golden table that was in the holy place, before the Lord. The loaves were twelve in number, and represented the twelve tribes of Israel: when the new were brought, the stale were taken away, but were to be eaten by the priests only. 1 Samuel 21:6.

Verse 5

[5] Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless?

The priests in the temple profane the Sabbath — That is, do their ordinary work on this, as on a common day, cleansing all things, and preparing the sacrifices.

A greater than the temple — If therefore the Sabbath must give way to the temple, much more must it give way to me.

Verse 7

[7] But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless.

I will have mercy and not sacrifice — That is, when they interfere with each other, I always prefer acts of mercy, before matters of positive institution: yea, before all ceremonial institutions whatever; because these being only means of religion, are suspended of course, if circumstances occur, wherein they clash with love, which is the end of it. Matthew 9:13.

Verse 8

[8] For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day.

For the Son of man — Therefore they are guiltless, were it only on this account, that they act by my authority, and attend on me in my ministry, as the priests attended on God in the temple: is Lord even of the Sabbath - This certainly implies, that the Sabbath was an institution of great and distinguished importance; it may perhaps also refer to that signal act of authority which Christ afterward exerted over it, in changing it from the seventh to the first day of the week. If we suppose here is a transposition of the 7th and 8th verses, then the 8th verse is a proof of the 6th. Matthew 12:7,8,6.

Verse 9

[9] And when he was departed thence, he went into their synagogue:

Mark 3:1; Luke 6:6.

Verse 12

[12] How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days.

It is lawful to do good on the Sabbath day — To save a beast, much more a man.

Verse 18

[18] 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 shew judgment to the Gentiles.

He shall show judgment to the heathens — That is, he shall publish the merciful Gospel to them also: the Hebrew word signifies either mercy or justice. Isaiah 42:1, etc.

Verse 19

[19] He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets.

He shall not strive, nor clamour; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets — That is, he shall not be contentious, noisy, or ostentatious: but gentle, quiet, and lowly. We may observe each word rises above the other, expressing a still higher degree of humility and gentleness.

Verse 20

[20] A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory.

A bruised reed — A convinced sinner: one that is bruised with the weight of sin: smoking flax - One that has the least good desire, the faintest spark of grace: till he send forth judgment unto victory - That is, till he make righteousness completely victorious over all its enemies.

Verse 21

[21] And in his name shall the Gentiles trust.

In his name — That is, in him.

Verse 22

[22] Then was brought unto him one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb: and he healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw.

A demoniac, blind and dumb — Many undoubtedly supposed these defects to be merely natural. But the Spirit of God saw otherwise, and gives the true account both of the disorder and the cure. How many disorders, seemingly natural, may even now be owing to the same cause? Luke 11:14.

Verse 23

[23] And all the people were amazed, and said, Is not this the son of David?

Is not this the son of David — That is, the Messiah.

Verse 24

[24] But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils.

Mark 3:22.

Verse 25

[25] And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand:

Jesus knowing their thoughts — It seems they had as yet only said it in their hearts.

Verse 26

[26] And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand?

How shall his kingdom be established — Does not that subtle spirit know thin is not the way to establish his kingdom?

Verse 27

[27] And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? therefore they shall be your judges.

By whom do your children — That is, disciples, cast them out - It seems, some of them really did this; although the sons of Sceva could not.

Therefore shall they be your judge — Ask them, if Satan will cast out Satan: let even them be judges in this matter. And they shall convict you of obstinacy and partiality, who impute that in me to Beelzebub, which in them you impute to God. Beside, how can I rob him of his subjects, till I have conquered him? The kingdom of God is come upon you - Unawares; before you expected: so the word implies.

Verse 29

[29] Or else how can one enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house.

How can one enter into the strong one's house, unless he first bind the strong one — So Christ coming into the world, which was then eminently the strong one's, Satan's house, first bound him, and then took his spoils.

Verse 30

[30] He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.

He that is not with me is against me — For there are no neuters in this war. Every one must be either with Christ or against him; either a loyal subject or a rebel. And there are none upon earth, who neither promote nor obstruct his kingdom. For he that does not gather souls to God, scatters them from him.

Verse 31

[31] Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.

The blasphemy against the Spirit — How much stir has been made about this? How many sermons, yea, volumes, have been written concerning it? And yet there is nothing plainer in all the Bible. It is neither more nor less than the ascribing those miracles to the power of the devil, which Christ wrought by the power of the Holy Ghost. Mark 3:28; Luke 12:10.

Verse 32

[32] And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.

Whosoever speaketh against the Son of man — In any other respects: It shall be forgiven him - Upon his true repentance: But whosoever speaketh thus against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven, neither in this world nor in the world to come - This was a proverbial expression among the Jews, for a thing that would never be done. It here means farther, He shall not escape the punishment of it, either in this world, or in the world to come. The judgment of God shall overtake him, both here and hereafter.

Verse 33

[33] Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit.

Either make the tree good and its fruit good: or make the tree corrupt and its fruit corrupt — That is, you must allow, they are both good, or both bad. - For if the fruit is good, so is the tree; if the fruit is evil, so is the tree also.

For the tree is known by its fruit — As if he had said, Ye may therefore know me by my fruits. By my converting sinners to God, you may know that God hath sent me. Matthew 7:16; Luke 6:43.

Verse 34

[34] O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.

In another kind likewise, the tree is known by its fruit - Namely, the heart by the conversation.

Verse 36

[36] But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.

Ye may perhaps think, God does not so much regard your words.

But I say to you — That not for blasphemous and profane words only, but for every idle word which men shall speak - For want of seriousness or caution; for every discourse which is not conducive to the glory of God, they shall give account in the day of judgment.

Verse 37

[37] For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.

For by thy words (as well as thy tempers and works) thou shalt then be either acquitted or condemned. Your words as well as actions shall he produced in evidence for or against you, to prove whether you was a true believer or not. And according to that evidence you will either be acquitted or condemned in the great day.

Verse 38

[38] Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee.

We would see a sign — Else we will not believe this. Matthew 16:1; Luke 11:16,29.

Verse 39

[39] But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas:

An adulterous generation — Whose heart wanders from God, though they profess him to be their husband. Such adulterers are all those who love the world, and all who seek the friendship of it.

Seeketh a sign — After all they have had already, which were abundantly sufficient to convince them, had not their hearts been estranged from God, and consequently averse to the truth.

The sign of Jonah — Who was herein a type of Christ.

Verse 40

[40] For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

Three days and three nights — It was customary with the eastern nations to reckon any part of a natural day of twenty-four hours, for the whole day. Accordingly they used to say a thing was done after three or seven days, if it was done on the third or seventh day, from that which was last mentioned. Instances of this may be seen, 1 Kings 20:29; and in many other places. And as the Hebrews had no word to express a natural day, they used night and day, or day and night for it. So that to say a thing happened after three days and three nights, was with them the very same, as to say, it happened after three days, or on the third day. See Esther 4:16; 5:1; Genesis 7:4,12; Exodus 24:18; 34:28. Jonah 2:1.

Verse 42

[42] The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here.

She came from the uttermost parts of the earth — That part of Arabia from which she came was the uttermost part of the earth that way, being bounded by the sea. 1 Kings 10:1.

Verse 43

[43] When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none.

But how dreadful will be the consequence of their rejecting me? When the unclean spirit goeth out - Not willingly, but being compelled by one that is stronger than he.

He walketh — Wanders up and down; through dry places - Barren, dreary, desolate; or places not yet watered with the Gospel: Seeking rest, and findeth none - How can he, while he carries with him his own hell? And is it not the case of his children too? Reader, is it thy case? Luke 11:24.

Verse 44

[44] Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished.

Whence he came out — He speaks as if he had come out of his own accord: See his pride! He findeth it empty - of God, of Christ, of his Spirit: Swept - from love, lowliness, meekness, and all the fruits of the Spirit: And garnished - With levity and security: so that there is nothing to keep him out, and much to invite him in.

Verse 45

[45] Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.

Seven other spirits — That is, a great many; a certain number being put for an uncertain: More wicked than himself - Whence it appears, that there are degrees of wickedness among the devils themselves: They enter in and dwell - For ever in him who is forsaken of God.

So shall it be to this wicked generation — Yea, and to apostates in all ages.

Verse 46

[46] While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him.

His brethren — His kinsmen: they were the sons of Mary, the wife of Cleopas, or Alpheus, his mother's sister; and came now seeking to take him, as one beside himself, Mark 3:21. Mark 3:31; Luke 8:19.

Verse 48

[48] But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren?

And he answering, said — Our Lord's knowing why they came, sufficiently justifies his seeming disregard of them. 49, 50. See the highest severity, and the highest goodness! Severity to his natural, goodness to his spiritual relations! In a manner disclaiming the former, who opposed the will of his heavenly Father, and owning the latter, who obeyed it.

Verse 50

[50] For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.

── John WesleyExplanatory Notes on Matthew


Chapter 12. The Lord Is Rest

A Bruised Reed He Will Not Break
Smoking Flax He Will Not Quench

I. Dispute over Sabbath

  1. Pluck Heads of Grain to Eat
  2. Healing of a Withered Hand
  3. Secret Plot to Kill Jesus

II. Refute the Pharisees

  1. Healing of a Demon-possessed Man
  2. Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit
  3. Judgment on Every Careless Word

III. Rebuke the Asking for Signs

  1. The Sign of Jonah
  2. Empty Inside
  3. All Believers Are Families
── Chih-Hsin ChangAn Outline of The New Testament
Every Idle Word (12:36-37)
1. The standards of God are much different than those of the world
   - cf. Isa 55:8,9
2. A striking example of this difference pertains to one's speech...
   a. The world thinks lightly of certain kinds of speech (e.g., 
      allowing profane speech in the name of free speech)
   b. Whereas Jesus taught us to take all speech seriously - Mt 12:
3. Speech is important, for it reveals the heart of man...
   a. Out of the abundance of heart the mouth speaks - Mt 12:34
   b. Thus speech reveals the sort of treasure stored in the heart of
      man - Mt 12:35
4. For this reason...
   a. Our very words will be taken into account on the day of judgment!
   b. We ought to give careful thought concerning the words we use
   c. It is imperative that our speech be in keeping with God's
      standard and not the world's!
[In this lesson, we shall review what the Bible teaches concerning 
acceptable and unacceptable speech.  We begin by cataloging some types
of speech that are condemned in the Scriptures...]
      1. Using the Lord's name in vain - Exo 20:7
         a. That is, without an attitude of sincere reverence
         b. One can be guilty of this in two ways:
            1) Using the Lord's name in swearing or cursing
            2) Using vain repetitions of His name
         c. Applies also to the name of Jesus, for His name is to be
            held in honor - Ph 2:9-11
      2. Words that are evil - cf. 1 Pe 3:10
         a. Lying words, or those that cause trouble among brethren 
            - Pro 6:16-19
         b. Deceitful words - Ro 16:18
         c. Filthy language - Ep 5:4
      1. The overuse of words - Ja 1:26; Pro 10:19; 13:3
      2. Words spoken in haste - Pro 29:20; cf. Ja 1:19
      3. Speaking evil of others
         a. Of those in authority - Exo 22:28; Jude 8
         b. Of those around us - Mt 5:21-22
         -- Such speech is known as reviling, and is clearly condemned
            - 1 Co 6:9-10
      4. Flattery - Psa 12:1-4; cf. Ro 16:18
      5. Rash oaths - Mt 5:33-37; Ja 5:12
      6. Any unwholesome word - cf. Ep 4:29
         a. Including some euphemisms (An inoffensive expression 
            substituted for one considered offensive)
         b. Some examples of euphemisms (darn, shoot, gosh, gee)
         c. What is wrong with such expressions?
            1) They mean the same thing as the more offensive words
            2) It is the same wrongful emotions behind the euphemism or
               its equivalent
            3) They reflect an attitude of heart contrary to the proper
               spirit of Christian conduct - cf. Ep 4:31-32; Co 3:8-15
[Often our speech is one of habit...but such habits reflect "the
abundance of the heart", i.e., what has been allowed to reside in the
heart and reveal the true nature of our hearts when so used.  As we
attempt to store up "good treasure" in our heart (cf. Mt 12:35), here
      1. Our speech should lead to edification  - Ep 4:29
         a. That which encourages and builds up 
         b. That which extends grace to others - cf. Co 4:6
            1) E.g., words which cool down heated conversations - Pro
            2) E.g., words that are a delight to those who hear - Pro
               15:4,23; 25:11
      2. Our speech should be characterized with thankfulness - Ep 5:
         a. An attitude becoming of saints - cf. Co 1:12; 2:7; 3:15,17;
         b. While murmuring and complaining is not becoming - cf. Ph 
      1. The righteous will give careful thought to his speech - Pro
      2. The righteous will be concerned about what comes out of his
         a. For he knows that his speech reflects the true condition of
            the heart - Mt 12:34-35; 15:17-20
         b. And he looks to God for help, even accepting the rebuke of
            others - Psa 141:3-5
1. It has been my purpose...
   a. To remind us of Jesus' words in Mt 12:36-37
   b. To raise our awareness of how easy it is to sin in our speech
   c. To remind us of the graceful speech that should proceed from our
2. I hope I have stimulated your thinking to give careful consideration
   to God's standard; may each of us possess the same desire as that 
   expressed in the prayer of the Psalmist:
   "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
      Be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer."
                                                        (Psa 19:14)


Condemned By Others (12:41-42)
1. On the day of Judgment, we will all be judged by Jesus Christ...
   a. It is before Him that we must appear - 2 Co 5:10
   b. It is by His words that we shall be condemned - Jn 12:48
2. But Jesus also spoke of some rising at the judgment and condemning 
   a. The men of Nineveh condemning the generation of Jews in Jesus' 
      day - Mt 12:41
   b. Likewise the Queen of the South - Mt 12:42
3. This makes me wonder...
   a. Will there be some who will rise at the judgment to condemn us?
   b. What would the men of Nineveh and the Queen of the South say
      about us?
[Perhaps from Jesus' words in Mt 12:41-42 we can glean some points that
ought to make us think soberly about our service to God, and whether we
too will be "Condemned By Others".
Let's first notice what is said about...]
      1. This refers to the Ninevites in Jonah's day - Mt 12:41
         a. To whom Jonah was sent with a message of destruction 
            - Jonah 3:1-4
         b. Who were quick to repent at the preaching of Jonah - Jonah
      2. They will rise to condemn the Jews of Jesus' day
         a. Because the Ninevites repented....
            1) And they were only given 40 days
            2) While the Jews were given about 40 years (before the
               destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70)
         b. Because the Jews had one greater than Jonah preach to 
            1) Jonah was a reluctant prophet, who became angry when God
               relented of the destruction to come upon Nineveh - Jonah
               1:1-3; 3:10-4:3
            2) Jesus was a compassionate prophet, who lamented over His
               people Israel - cf. Mt 23:37-38; Lk 19:41-44
      1. This refers to the Queen of Sheba - Mt 12:42
         a. Who traveled great distances ("from the ends of the earth")
            to see Solomon - 1 Kin 10:1
         b. She brought a great caravan of spices, gold, and precious
            stones - 1 Kin 10:2
         c. Who praised God for the wisdom given to Solomon - 1 Kin 10:
         d. Who honored Solomon with great gifts - 1 Kin 10:10
      2. She will rise to condemn the Jews of Jesus' day
         a. Because the Queen was willing to travel...
            1) A great distance to see Solomon
            2) While many Jews were unwilling to follow Jesus
         b. Because the Jews had one greater than Solomon teach them...
            1) Solomon certainly was the wisest man of his day - 1 Kin
            2) But Jesus possessed "all the treasures of wisdom and 
               knowledge" - Co 2:3
[The Ninevites and the Queen of Sheba will judge the Jews of Jesus' day
because they showed less interest and willingness to heed even though
they had a much greater opportunity.  Again, this makes me wonder...]
      1. They were quick to repent after hearing the one message of
         a. How many sermons have we heard, yet failed to repent?
         b. They were given but forty days, how many years has God
            given us to repent?
      2. They repented when all they had was a simple message...
         a. We have God's full and final revelation, written and 
            preserved for us
         b. We have God's word, revealed through His Son and His 
         c. We have likely had the blessing of parents, teachers, 
            preachers, and many other Christians encouraging us to live
            for God
      -- If we do not heed the message of Jesus Christ, don't you think
         the Ninevites will consider us foolish on the day of judgment?
      1. She was willing to travel a great distance to hear Solomon...
         a. Have we been unwilling to travel a short distance to hear
            the words of Christ proclaimed?
         b. She traveled on camels through desert for months at great
            risk, yet some won't travel in air-conditioned cars for an
            hour or less when there is only minimal risk
      2. She highly valued Solomon's wisdom, giving great gifts to 
         a. Do we value the wisdom of the Son of God?
         b. Are we willing to offer the gifts of our time and energy to
            learn the wisdom of Christ as revealed in His word?
      -- If we are unwilling to learn the will of Christ for us today,
         will not the Queen of Sheba consider us foolish on the day of
      1. Think of those in the nineteenth century...
         a. Who often traveled by wagon or horseback for hours to hear
            God's word
         b. Who sat on logs, in brush arbors or under tents
      2. Think of those in the first half of the twentieth century...
         a. Who sat in hot, un-airconditioned buildings
         b. Who went to protracted meetings every night, often for
            three or more weeks
      3. Think of those who struggled to come out of Denominationalism
         a. Studying God's Word carefully to learn the simplicity of
            New Testament Christianity
         b. Often making the difficult decision to leave family and 
            friends to follow the way of Christ
      -- If we balk at attending services regularly, taking advantages
         of gospel meetings and Bible studies offered in nice, 
         comfortable buildings, will not those who preceded us think us
         foolish on the day of judgment?
1. As Jesus said to His disciples on another occasion: "But blessed are
   your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear; for assuredly,
   I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see
   what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and
   did not hear it." (Mt 13:17)
2. Indeed, we are richly blessed...
   a. We have the message of salvation offered by One greater than
   b. We have the wisdom of God taught by One greater than Solomon
   -- Don't you think that the Ninevites and the Queen of the South
      would have loved to have what we enjoy today?
3. Don't forget the maxim: "For everyone to whom much is given, from
   him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of
   him they will ask the more." (Lk 12:48)
Unless we wish to be "Condemned By Others" on the day of judgment, let
us utilize the blessings given to us through Christ, and expend 
whatever effort necessary to learn and heed His wonderful message!


The Danger Of An Empty Home (12:43-45)
1. In the text for our study (Mt 12:43-45), Jesus was describing the
   spiritual condition of the generation of His day...
   a. One already described as "evil and adulterous" - cf. Mt 12:38-39
   b. One that would be condemned by the Ninevites and the Queen of
      Sheba in the day of judgment - cf. Mt 12:41-42
   c. One He now described as "this wicked generation" - Mt 12:45
2. Using the example of demon possession, Jesus warned it is not enough
   to go through an initial period of repentance and removal of sin
   a. Unless reformation continues and something positive is put in
   b. The end might prove worse than the beginning!
3. Such had been the case with the Jews of Jesus' day...
   a. Many had repented at the preaching of John the Baptist - Mt 3:5-6
   b. Yet they eventually rejected Jesus and called for His crucifixion
      - Mt 27:20-26
   -- For them "the last state" was truly "worse than the first" - Mt 
[There is an important lesson to be gleaned that applies to Christians
as well.  From what we learn here and elsewhere in the Scriptures, we
need to be aware of...]
      1. In it can reside things that produce much harm - cf. Mt 15:19
      2. But it can also be the source for much good - cf. Mt 12:35a
      1. For our heart is cleansed - cf. He 10:22; Ac 15:8-9
      2. Our conscience is purged from dead works to serve God - He 9:
      1. Indeed, God gives us His Spirit to dwell in our hearts - Ga 
      2. Through faith Christ Himself is to dwell in our hearts - cf. 
         Ep 3:17
      3. God's peace and grace are to fill our hearts - Co 3:15-16
      4. Even God's law is to be written in our hearts - He 8:10
      1. Remember the maxim:  "Nature abhors a vacuum"
         a. If we do not make the effort to fill our home with good 
         b. Then evil things are likely to return, and with a 
      2. Consider the example of the Corinthians
         a. They had been washed, sanctified, and justified - 1 Co 6:11
         b. Yet later they were engaged in sinful conduct once again 
            - 2 Co 12:20-21
      3. Consider the example of the false teachers mentioned by 
         a. They had been bought by the Lord, and escaped the 
            pollutions of the world through Jesus Christ - 2 Pe 2:1,20
         b. But they had become entangled again - 2 Pe 2:20
         c. For them, "the latter end is worse for them than the 
            beginning" - 2 Pe 2:20-22
      1. In the case of the false teachers, they had...
         a. Forsaken the right way - 2 Pe 2:15
         b. Eyes full of adultery, hearts trained in covetousness 
            - 2 Pe 2:14
         c. Become "cursed children", "brute beasts" - 2 Pe 2:14,13
         d. Even denied the Lord who bought them - 2 Pe 2:1
      2. In our case...
         a. Our hearts can become "hardened" - cf. He 3:12-13
            1) Before, the gospel had touched our hearts, moving us to
            2) But once hardened, our hearts might not be willing to
               listen - cf. Mt 13:15
         b. We can become so hardened through willful sin that we...
            1) Trample the Son of God underfoot
            2) Count the blood of the covenant a common thing
            3) Insult the Spirit of grace - cf. He 10:26-29
         c. We can even reach the point...
            1) Where it become impossible to be renewed again to 
            2) Where we are crucifying again the Son of God and putting
               Him to open shame - cf. He 6:4-6
         -- In such a case, how true the statement: "The last state of
            that man is worse than the first"!
[How important it is, then, that we do not let the home of our heart
remain empty and thus invite worldly things to take up residence.  To 
avoid this, here are some thoughts on...]
      1. Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts - 1 Pe 3:15
         a. The word "sanctify" means to "set apart"
         b. Set a special place in your heart for God as the Ruler of
            your life
      2. Be selective as to what goes into your mind
         a. Set your mind on things above - Co 3:1-2
         b. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly - Co 3:16
         c. Follow the example of David - cf. Psa 101:3-4
         d. Think upon things that are good and wholesome - Ph 4:8
      -- Remember, transformation of character begins with renewing the
         mind - Ro 12:1-2
      1. Utilize every opportunity to study God's word - cf. 1 Pe 2:1-2
         a. Attend all services of the church
         b. Participate in the Bible study programs that are offered
         c. Read your Bible daily - Psa 1:1-6
      2. Fill your heart with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs...
         a. For this is how you:
            1) Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly - Co 3:16
            2) Allow yourself to be filled with the Spirit - Ep 5:18-19
         b. Sing at church, at home, in the car; sing alone and with
      3. Let your mind dwell on things that are worthy of praise and
         virtue - cf. Ph 4:8
         a. Be selective about what you watch on television and in the
         b. Choose your books, periodicals, magazines, etc., carefully
      4. Choose your friends carefully - cf. 1 Co 15:33
         a. They will either help you to be strong or hinder your 
            efforts - Pr 13:20
         b. We cannot have communion with darkness and expect the light
            of God to dwell in us! - cf. 2 Co 6:14-7:1
1. What is the condition of your "home" (heart)?
   a. Are you are filling your "home" things that are good?
   b. If not, then your heart becomes an abode for every evil thing
   ...and the condition of your heart may become seven times worse than
2. Have you experienced the initial cleansing of your "home" (heart)?
   a. Have you been cleansed by the blood of Jesus, so that you are 
      washed, justified, and sanctified?
   b. If so, wonderful; but don't be deceived into thinking that you do
      not need to be concerned about filling that dwelling with the 
      presence of God and all that is good!
   ...or it may one day be said of you: "the last state of that man is
      worse than the first"
If you have never been cleansed by the blood of Christ, then may these
words spoken to Paul at his conversion move you to respond:
   "And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash
   away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord." (Ac 22:16)


The Family Of Jesus (12:46-50)
1. A wonderful blessing is that of having a family...
   a. A source of love and acceptance
   b. A stronghold of support and encouragement
2. But we are not limited to the blessings of a physical family...
   a. Jesus hinted at the existence of an extended family - Mk 10:28-30
      1) A benefit of leaving all to follow Him
      2) Even if it meant leaving one's physical family
   b. He used another opportunity to describe that family - Mt 12:46-50
      1) As His physical family sought to speak to Him
      2) He described those who made up His "spiritual" family
3. In this study, I would like for us to...
   a. Review what we know about "The Family Of Jesus" (both physical
      and spiritual)
   b. Remind ourselves of the wonderful family we have in Jesus Christ
[Let's start by reviewing what we know about...]
      1. A woman worthy of high esteem
         a. As praised by the angel Gabriel:
            1) "highly favored one...blessed are you among women" 
                - Lk 1:28
            2) "you have found favor with God" - Lk 1:30
         b. As praised by her cousin Elizabeth:
            1) "blessed are you among women" - Lk 1:42
            2) "Blessed is she who believed" - Lk 1:45
         c. As she came to realize herself:  "...henceforth all 
            generations will call me blessed." - Lk 1:48
      2. A mother of several children
         a. As implied in Mt 1:25
            1) Joseph did not "know" (a euphemism for sexual relations)
               with her "until" the birth of Jesus
            2) Jesus was her "firstborn Son", the term firstborn 
               implying there were more
         b. As explicitly stated in Mt 12:46-47; 13:54-56
            1) He had "brothers" and "sisters", the brothers being 
            2) There is no indication in Scripture that these were 
               cousins, or children of Joseph by a previous marriage
      3. A mother who respected her Son
         a. She treasured His sayings in her heart - Lk 2:48-51
         b. She respected His authority - Jn 2:5
         c. She followed Him to the cross - Jn 19:25
         d. She continued with the disciples after His ascension 
            - Ac 1:14 (the last time she is mentioned in the Bible)
      -- She was the "only" person who really knew the identity of 
         Jesus; that she let her Son die on the cross is evidence that
         He was truly the Son of God!
      1. Mentioned in Mt 13:55-56
         a. His brothers were James, Joses, Simon and Judas
         b. He had at least two sisters
      2. His brothers (and likely His sisters) did not believe in Him
         at first
         a. They even challenged Him on one occasion - Jn 7:2-5
         b. They thought Him crazy on another occasion - cf. Mk 3:21
      3. Yet after His resurrection they came to believe
         a. He appeared to James - 1 Co 15:7
         b. They continued with the disciples - Ac 1:14
         c. His brother James:
            1) Became a prominent leader of the church in Jerusalem 
               - Ga 1:19; 2:9; Ac 15:6-21; 21:18-25
            2) Is likely the author of The Epistle of James
            3) Is said to have been martyred by being thrown off the
               pinnacle of the temple
         d. His brother Judas is considered by many as the author of
            The Epistle of Jude
         e. His brothers evidently were married and traveled about
            teaching - cf. 1 Co 9:5
      -- The conversion of His physical brothers who were at first 
         skeptical is additional evidence supporting the claim of Jesus
         as the Son of God
[It must have been a wonderful privilege to be part of Jesus' physical
family, especially after they came to believe in Him.  But according to
our text (Mt 12:46-50), anyone can become a part of that family which
meant the most to Jesus...]
      1. Jesus used this opportunity to identify the disciples as His
         true family - Mt 12:48-49
      2. He then described anyone who "does the will of My Father in
         heaven" as His brother, sister, and mother - Mt 12:50
      3. Why would Jesus identify His disciples as His true family?
         a. Our physical families are only temporary
            1) Begun at birth, ending at death
            2) Just as death ends the marriage bond (cf. Ro 7:2-3), so
               it ends the familial tie
            -- Emotionally we might resist this notion, but the fact
               remains the same
         b. Physical unions do not always mean spiritual ones
            1) At the time Jesus spoke, His brothers did not believe in
            2) As often happens, family members do not always have the
               same interests, the same concerns
            3) Jesus taught that physical relatives might not accept
               the truth - Mt 10:34-37
   -- Thus the true "Family Of Jesus" are those who do His Father's
      1. Jesus told Peter that His disciples would have "a hundredfold"
         brothers, sisters, and mothers in this lifetime - Mk 10:28-30
      2. This is an allusion to the church, which is now "the household
         (family) of God" - 1 Ti 3:15
      3. Jesus therefore offers those willing to "do My Father's will"
         the opportunity...
         a. To be born into the family of God - cf. 1 Pe 1:22-23
         b. To enjoy God as our Father, Jesus as our "Elder Brother" 
            - cf. He 2:11-12
         c. To have countless thousands as brothers, sisters, mothers,
            fathers - cf. 1 Ti 5:1-2
         d. To join a "family ring" which shall never be broken!
      4. But the key is to "do the Father's will"!
         a. Not only to become a member of the family of Jesus
         b. But to enter the kingdom of heaven in its future glory 
            - Mt 7:21-23
      5. For it is serving God that ties us together in Christ...
         a. Bind us together in love
         b. Uniting us with the same purpose, goals, desires
      -- The church of Jesus Christ, then, is the true "Family Of
         Jesus" today, and forever!
1. Who is our true family today?
   a. If it is only our physical family, we are setting ourselves up
      for a great disappointment
   b. If we want a family that will last for eternity, make sure that
      our bond is a spiritual one
      1) Joined together by a mutual faith in Christ
      2) Working together as we do the will of our Father in heaven
      -- Perhaps we can have the best of both worlds, where your
         physical family is also part of your spiritual family!
2. What have you done for your true family lately?
   a. Have you gotten to know your brothers and sisters in Christ?
   b. Are you growing in your love for them?
   c. Are you encouraging them to do the Father's will?
   -- May the teaching of Jesus in our text remind you who is truly
      your family!
Are you in the family of Jesus?  No matter what kind of physical family
you may have been born into, you have the opportunity by God's grace to
be born into the wonderful family of God...!


--《Executable Outlines