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Bible Commentary / Bible Study

Matthew Henry Commentary on Luke 10:1-24

From Matthew Henry's Commentary (c. 1700)


In this chapter we have, I. The ample commission which Christ gave to the seventy disciples to preach the gospel, and to confirm it by miracles; and the full instructions he gave them how to manage themselves in the execution of their commissions, and great encouragements therein, ver. 1-16. II. The report which the seventy disciples made to their Master of the success of their negotiation, and his discourse thereupon, ver. 17-24. III. Christ's discourse with a lawyer concerning the way to heaven, and the instructions Christ gave him by a parable to look upon every one as his neighbour whom he had occasion to show kindness to, or receive kindness from, ver. 25-37. IV. Christ's entertainment at Martha's house, the reproof he gave to her for her care about the world, and his commendation of Mary for her care about her soul, ver. 38-42.

The Mission of the Seventy.

1 After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come. 2 Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest. 3 Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves. 4 Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes: and salute no man by the way. 5 And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house. 6 And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it: if not, it shall turn to you again. 7 And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house. 8 And into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you: 9 And heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you. 10 But into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you not, go your ways out into the streets of the same, and say, 11 Even the very dust of your city, which cleaveth on us, we do wipe off against you: notwithstanding be ye sure of this, that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you. 12 But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable in that day for Sodom, than for that city. 13 Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon, which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. 14 But it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment, than for you. 15 And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven, shalt be thrust down to hell. 16 He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me.

We have here the sending forth of seventy disciples, two and two, into divers parts of the country, to preach the gospel, and to work miracles in those places which Christ himself designed to visit, to make way for his entertainment. This is not taken notice of by the other evangelists: but the instructions here given them are much the same with those given to the twelve. Observe,

I. Their number: they were seventy. As in the choice of twelve apostles Christ had an eye to the twelve patriarchs, the twelve tribes, and the twelve princes of those tribes, so here he seems to have an eye to the seventy elders of Israel. So many went up with Moses and Aaron to the mount, and saw the glory of the God of Israel (Exod. xxiv. 1, 9), and so many were afterwards chosen to assist Moses in the government, in order to which the Spirit of prophecy came unto them, Num. xi. 24, 25. The twelve wells of water and the seventy palm-trees that were at Elim were a figure of the twelve apostles and the seventy disciples, Exod. xv. 27. They were seventy elders of the Jews that were employed by Ptolemy king of Egypt in turning the Old Testament into Greek, whose translation is thence called the Septuagint. The great sanhedrim consisted of this number. Now,

1. We are glad to find that Christ had so many followers fit to be sent forth; his labour was not altogether in vain, though he met with much opposition. Note, Christ's interest is a growing interest, and his followers, like Israel in Egypt, though afflicted shall multiply. These seventy, though they did not attend him so closely and constantly as the twelve did, were nevertheless the constant hearers of his doctrine, and witnesses of his miracles, and believed in him. Those three mentioned in the close of the foregoing chapter might have been of these seventy, if they would have applied themselves in good earnest to their business. These seventy are those of whom Peter speaks as "the men who companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us," and were part of the one hundred and twenty there spoken of, Acts i. 15, 21. Many of those that were the companions of the apostles, whom we read of in the Acts and the Epistles, we may suppose, were of these seventy disciples.

2. We are glad to find there was work for so many ministers, hearers for so many preachers: thus the grain of mustard-seed began to grow, and the savour of the leaven to diffuse itself in the meal, in order to the leavening of the whole.

II. Their work and business: He sent them two and two, that they might strengthen and encourage one another. If one fall, the other will help to raise him up. He sent them, not to all the cities of Israel, as he did the twelve, but only to every city and place whither he himself would come (v. 1), as his harbingers; and we must suppose, though it is not recorded, that Christ soon after went to all those places whither he now sent them, though he could stay but a little while in a place. Two things they were ordered to do, the same that Christ did wherever he came:—1. They must heal the sick (v. 9), heal them in the name of Jesus, which would make people long to see this Jesus, and ready to entertain him whose name was so powerful. 2. They must publish the approach of the kingdom of God, its approach to them: "Tell them this, The kingdom of God is come nigh to you, and you now stand fair for an admission into it, if you will but look about you. Now is the day of your visitation, know and understand it." It is good to be made sensible of our advantages and opportunities, that we may lay hold of them. When the kingdom of God comes nigh us, it concerns us to go forth to meet it.

III. The instructions he gives them.

1. They must set out with prayer (v. 2); and, in prayer, (1.) They must be duly affected with the necessities of the souls of men, which called for their help. They must look about, and see how great the harvest was, what abundance of people there were that wanted to have the gospel preached to them and were willing to receive it, nay, that had at this time their expectations raised of the coming of the Messiah and of his kingdom. There was corn ready to shed and be lost for want of hands to gather it in. Note, Ministers should apply themselves to their work under a deep concern for precious souls, looking upon them as the riches of this world, which ought to be secured for Christ. They must likewise be concerned that the labourers were so few. The Jewish teachers were indeed many, but they were not labourers; they did not gather in souls to God's kingdom, but to their own interest and party. Note, Those that are good ministers themselves wish that there were more good ministers, for there is work for more. It is common for tradesmen not to care how few there are of their own trade; but Christ would have the labourers in his vineyard reckon it a matter of complaint when the labourers are few. (2.) They must earnestly desire to receive their mission from God, that he would send them forth as labourers into his harvest who is the Lord of the harvest, and that he would send others forth; for, if God send them forth, they may hope he will go along with them and give them success. Let them therefore say, as the prophet (Isa. vi. 8), Here I am, send me. It is desirable to receive our commission from God, and then we may go on boldly.

2. They must set out with an expectation of trouble and persecution: "Behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves; but go your ways, and resolve to make the best of it. Your enemies will be as wolves, bloody and cruel, and ready to pull you to pieces; in their threatenings and revilings, they will be as howling wolves to terrify you; in their persecutions of you, they will be as ravening wolves to tear you. But you must be as lambs, peaceable and patient, though made an easy prey of." It would have been very hard thus to be sent forth as sheep among wolves, if he had not endued them with his spirit and courage.

3. They must not encumber themselves with a load of provisions, as if they were going a long voyage, but depend upon God and their friends to provide what was convenient for them: "Carry neither a purse for money, nor a scrip or knapsack for clothes or victuals, nor new shoes (as before to the twelve, ch. ix. 3); and salute no man by the way." This command Elisha gave to his servant, when he sent him to see the Shunamite's dead child, 2 Kings iv. 29. Not that Christ would have his ministers to be rude, morose, and unmannerly; but, (1.) They must go as men in haste, that had their particular places assigned them, where they must deliver their message, and in their way directly to those places must not hinder or retard themselves with needless ceremonies or compliments. (2.) They must go as men of business, business that relates to another world, which they must be intent in, and intent upon, and therefore must not entangle themselves with conversation about secular affairs. Minister verbi est; hoc age—You are a minister of the word; attend to your office. (3.) They must go as serious men, and men in sorrow. It was the custom of mourners, during the first seven days of their mourning, not to salute any, Job ii. 13. Christ was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and it was fit that by this and other signs his messengers should resemble him, and likewise show themselves affected with the calamities of mankind which they came to relieve, and touched with a feeling of them.

4. They must show, not only their goodwill, but God's good-will, to all to whom they came, and leave the issue and success to him that knows the heart, v. 5, 6.

(1.) The charge given them was, Whatsoever house they entered into, they must say, Peace be to this house. Here, [1.] They are supposed to enter into private houses; for, being not admitted into the synagogues, they were forced to preach where they could have liberty. And, as their public preaching was driven into houses, so thither they carried it. Like their Master, wherever they visited, they preached from house to house, Acts v. 42; xx. 20. Christ's church was at first very much a church in the house. [2.] They are instructed to say, "Peace be to this house, to all under this roof, to this family, and to all that belong to it." Peace be to you was the common form of salutation among the Jews. They must not use it in formality, according to custom, to those they met on the way, because they must use it with solemnity to those whose houses they entered into: "Salute no man by the way in compliment, but to those into whose house ye enter, say, Peace be to you, with seriousness and in reality; for this is intended to be more than a compliment." Christ's ministers go into all the world, to say, in Christ's name, Peace be to you. First, We are to propose peace to all, to preach peace by Jesus Christ, to proclaim the gospel of peace, the covenant of peace, peace on earth, and to invite the children of men to come and take the benefit of it. Secondly, We are to pray for peace to all. We must earnestly desire the salvation of the souls of those we preach to, and offer up those desires to God in prayer; and it may be well to let them know that we do thus pray for them, and bless them in the name of the Lord.

(2.) The success was to be different, according to the different dispositions of those whom they preached to and prayed for. According as the inhabitants were sons of peace or not, so their peace should or should not rest upon the house. Recipitur ad modum recipientis—The quality of the receiver determines the nature of the reception. [1.] "You will meet with some that are the sons of peace, that by the operations of divine grace, pursuant to the designations of the divine counsel, are ready to admit the word of the gospel in the light and love of it, and have their hearts made as soft wax to receive the impressions of it. Those are qualified to receive the comforts of the gospel in whom there is a good work of grace wrought. And, as to those, your peace shall find them out and rest upon them; your prayers for them shall be heard, the promises of the gospel shall be confirmed to them, the privileges of it conferred on them, and the fruit of both shall remain and continue with them—a good part that shall not be taken away." [2.] "You will meet with others that are no ways disposed to hear or heed your message, whole houses that have not one son of peace in them." Now it is certain that our peace shall not come upon them, they have no part nor lot in the matter; the blessing that rests upon the sons of peace shall never come upon the sons of Belial, nor can any expect the blessings of the covenant that will not come under the bonds of it. But it shall return to us again; that is, we shall have the comfort of having done our duty to God and discharged our trust. Our prayers like David's shall return into our own bosom (Ps. xxxv. 13) and we shall have commission to go on in the work. Our peace shall return to us again, not only to be enjoyed by ourselves, but to be communicated to others, to the next we meet with, them that are sons of peace.

5. They must receive the kindnesses of those that should entertain them and bid them welcome, v. 7, 8. "Those that receive the gospel will receive you that preach it, and give you entertainment; you must not think to raise estates, but you may depend upon a subsistence; and," (1.) "Be not shy; do not suspect our welcome, nor be afraid of being troublesome, but eat and drink heartily such things as they give; for, whatever kindness they show you, it is but a small return for the kindness you do them in bringing the glad tidings of peace. You will deserve it, for the labourer is worthy of his hire, the labourer in the work of the ministry is so, if he be indeed a labourer; and it is not an act of charity, but of justice, in those who are taught in the word to communicate to those that teach them" (2.) "Be not nice and curious in your diet: Eat and drink such things as they give (v. 7), such things as are set before you, v. 8. Be thankful for plain food, and do not find fault, though it be not dressed according to art." It ill becomes Christ's disciples to be desirous of dainties. As he has not tied them up to the Pharisees' superstitious fasts, so he has not allowed the luxurious feasts of the Epicureans. Probably, Christ here refers to the traditions of the elders about their meat which were so many that those who observed them were extremely critical, you could hardly set a dish of meat before them, but there was some scruple or other concerning it; but Christ would not have them to regard those things, but eat what was given them, asking no question for conscience' sake.

6. They must denounce the judgments of God against those who should reject them and their message: "If you enter into a city, and they do not receive you, if there be none there disposed to hearken to your doctrine, leave them, v. 10. If they will not give you welcome into their houses, do you give them warning in their streets." He orders them to (ch. ix. 5) do as he had ordered the apostles to do: "Say to them, not with rage, or scorn, or resentment, but with compassion to their poor perishing souls, and a holy dread of the ruin which they are bringing upon themselves, Even the dust of your city, which cleaveth on us, we do wipe off against you, v. 11. From them do not receive any kindnesses at all, be not beholden to them. It cost that prophet of the Lord dear who accepted a meal's meat with a prophet in Bethel, 1 Kings xiii. 21, 22. Tell them that you will not carry with you the dust of their city; let them take it to themselves, for dust they are." It shall be a witness for Christ's messengers that they had been there according to their Master's order; tender and refusal were a discharge of their trust. But it shall be a witness against the recusants that they would not give Christ's messengers any entertainment, no, not so much as water to wash their feet with, but they were forced to wipe off the dust. "But tell them plainly, and bid them be sure of it, The kingdom of God is come nigh to you. Here is a fair offer made you; if you have not the benefit of it, it is your own fault. The gospel is brought to your doors; if you shut your doors against it, your blood is upon your own head. Now that the kingdom of God is come nigh to you, if you will not come up to it, and come into it, your sin will be inexcusable, and your condemnation intolerable." Note, The fairer offers we have of grace and life by Christ, the more we shall have to answer for another day, if we slight these offers: It shall be more tolerable for Sodom than for that city, v. 12. The Sodomites indeed rejected the warning given them by Lot; but rejecting the gospel is a more heinous crime, and will be punished accordingly in that day. He means the day of judgment (v. 14), but calls it, by way of emphasis, that day, because it is the last and great day, the day when we must account for all the days of time, and have our state determined for the days of eternity.

Upon this occasion, the evangelist repeats,

(1.) The particular doom of those cities wherein most of Christ's mighty works were done, which we had, Matt. xi. 20, &c. Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum, all bordering upon the sea of Galilee, where Christ was most conversant, are the places here mentioned. [1.] They enjoyed greater privileges. Christ's mighty works were done in them, and they were all gracious works, works of mercy. They were hereby exalted to heaven, not only dignified and honoured, but put into a fair way of being happy; they were brought as near heaven as external means could bring them. [2.] God's design in favouring them thus was to bring them to repentance and reformation of life, to sit in sackcloth and ashes, both in humiliation for the sins they had committed, and in humility and a meek subjection to God's government. [3.] Their frustrating this design, and their receiving the grace of God therein in vain. It is implied that they repented not; they were not wrought upon by all the miracles of Christ to think the better of him, or the worse of sin; they did not bring forth fruits agreeable to the advantages they enjoyed. [4.] There was reason to think, morally speaking, that, if Christ had gone to Tyre and Sidon, Gentile cities, and had preached the same doctrine to them and wrought the same miracles among them that he did in these cities of Israel, they would have repented long ago, so speedy would their repentance have been, and that in sackcloth and ashes, so deep would it have been. Now to understand the wisdom of God, in giving the means of grace to those who would not improve them, and denying them to those that would, we must wait for the great day of discovery. [5.] The doom of those who thus receive the grace of God in vain will be very fearful. They that were thus exalted, not making use of their elevation, will be thrust down to hell, thrust down with disgrace and dishonour. They will thrust in to get into heaven, in the crowd of professors, but in vain; they shall be thrust down, to their everlasting grief and disappointment, into the lowest hell, and hell will be hell indeed to them. [6.] In the day of judgment Tyre and Sidon will fare better, and it will be more tolerable for them than for these cities.

(2.) The general rule which Christ would go by, as to those to whom he sent his ministers: He will reckon himself treated according as they treated his ministers, v. 16. What is done to the ambassador is done, as it were, to the prince that sends him. [1.] "He that hearest you, and regardeth what you say, heareth me, and herein doeth me honour. But," [2.] "He that despiseth you doth in effect despise me, and shall be reckoned with as having put an affront upon me; nay, he despiseth him that sent me." Note, Those who contemn the Christian religion do in effect put a slight upon natural religion, which it is perfective of. And they who despise the faithful ministers of Christ, who, though they do not hate and persecute them, yet think meanly of them, look scornfully upon them, and turn their backs upon their ministry, will be reckoned with as despisers of God and Christ.

The Success of the Seventy.

17 And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name. 18 And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. 19 Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. 20 Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven. 21 In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight. 22 All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him. 23 And he turned him unto his disciples, and said privately, Blessed are the eyes which see the things that ye see: 24 For I tell you, that many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.

Christ sent forth the seventy disciples as he was going up to Jerusalem to the feast of tabernacles, when he went up, not openly, but as it were in secret (John vii. 10), having sent abroad so great a part of his ordinary retinue; and Dr. Lightfoot thinks it was before his return from that feast, and while he was yet at Jerusalem, or Bethany, which was hard by (for there he was, v. 38), that they, or at least some of them, returned to him. Now here we are told,

1. What account they gave him of the success of their expedition: They returned again with joy (v. 17); not complaining of the fatigue of their journeys, nor of the opposition and discouragement they met with, but rejoicing in their success, especially in casting out unclean spirits: Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name. Though only the healing of the sick was mentioned in their commission (v. 19), yet no doubt the casting out of devils was included, and in this they had wonderful success. 1. They give Christ the glory of this: It is through thy name. Note, all our victories over Satan are obtained by power derived from Jesus Christ. We must in his name enter the lists with our spiritual enemies, and, whatever advantages we gain, he must have all the praise; if the work be done in his name, the honour is due to his name. 2. They entertain themselves with the comfort of it; they speak of it with an air of exultation: Even the devils, those potent enemies, are subject to us. Note, the saints have no greater joy or satisfaction in any of their triumphs than in those over Satan. If devils are subject to us, what can stand before us?

II. What acceptance they found with him, and how he received this account.

1. He confirmed what they said, as agreeing with his own observation (v. 18): "My heart and eye went along with you; I took notice of the success you had, and I saw Satan fall as lightning from heaven." Note, Satan and his kingdom fell before the preaching of the gospel. "I see how it is," saith Christ, "as you get ground the devil loseth ground." He falls as lightning falls from heaven, so suddenly, so irrecoverably, so visibly, that all may perceive it, and say, "See how Satan's kingdom totters, see how it tumbles." They triumphed in casting devils out of the bodies of people; but Christ sees and rejoices in the fall of the devil from the interest he has in the souls of men, which is called his power in high places, Eph. vi. 12. He foresees this to be but an earnest of what should now be shortly done and was already begun—the destroying of Satan's kingdom in the world by the extirpating of idolatry and the turning of the nations to the faith of Christ. Satan falls from heaven when he falls from the throne in men's hearts, Acts xxvi. 18. And Christ foresaw that the preaching of the gospel, which would fly like lightning through the world, would wherever it went pull down Satan's kingdom. Now is the prince of this world cast out. Some have given another sense of this, as looking back to the fall of the angels, and designed for a caution to these disciples, lest their success should puff them up with pride: "I saw angels turned into devils by pride: that was the sin for which Satan was cast down from heaven, where he had been an angel of light I saw it, and give you an intimation of it lest you, being lifted up with pride should fall into that condemnation of the devil, who fell by pride," 1 Tim. iii. 6.

2. He repeated, ratified, and enlarged their commission: Behold I give you power to tread on serpents, v. 19. Note, To him that hath, and useth well what he hath, more shall be given. They had employed their power vigorously against Satan, and now Christ entrusts them with greater power. (1.) An offensive power, power to tread on serpents and scorpions, devils and malignant spirits, the old serpent: "You shall bruise their heads in my name," according to the first promise, Gen. iii. 15. Come, set your feet on the necks of these enemies; you shall tread upon these lions and adders wherever you meet with them; you shall trample them under foot, Ps. xci. 13. You shall tread upon all the power of the enemy, and the kingdom of the Messiah shall be every where set up upon the ruins of the devil's kingdom. As the devils have now been subject to you, so they shall still be. (2.) A defensive power: "Nothing shall by any means hurt you; not serpents nor scorpions, if you should be chastised with them or thrown into prisons and dungeons among them; you shall be unhurt by the most venomous creatures," as St. Paul was (Acts xxviii. 5), and as is promised in Mark xvi. 18. "If wicked men be as serpents to you, and you dwell among those scorpions (as Ezek. ii. 6), you may despise their rage, and tread upon it; it need not disturb you, for they have no power against you but what is given them from above; they may hiss, but they cannot hurt." You may play upon the hole of the asp, for death itself shall not hurt nor destroy, Isa. xi. 8, 19; xxv. 8.

3. He directed them to turn their joy into the right channel (v. 20): "Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you, that they have been so, and shall be still so. Do not rejoice in this merely as it is your honour, and a confirmation of your mission, and as it sets you a degree above other good people; do not rejoice in this only, or in this chiefly, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven, because you are chosen of God to eternal life, and are the children of God through faith." Christ, who knew the counsels of God, could tell them that their names were written in heaven, for it is the Lamb's book of life that they are written in. All believers are through grace, entitled to the inheritance of sons, and have received the adoption of sons, and the Spirit of adoption, which is the earnest of that inheritance and so are enrolled among his family; now this is matter of joy, greater joy than casting out devils. Note, Power to become the children of God is to be valued more than a power to work miracles; for we read of those who did in Christ's name cast out devils, as Judas did, and yet will be disowned by Christ in the great day. But they whose names are written in heaven shall never perish; they are Christ's sheep, to whom he will give eternal life. Saving graces are more to be rejoiced in than spiritual gifts; holy love is a more excellent way than speaking with tongues.

4. He offered up a solemn thanksgiving to his Father, for employing such mean people as his disciples were in such high and honourable service, v. 21, 22. This we had before (Matt. xi. 25-27), only here it is prefixed that in that hour Jesus rejoiced. It was fit that particular notice should be taken of that hour, because there were so few such, for he was a man of sorrows. In that hour in which he saw Satan fall, and heard of the good success of his ministers, in that hour he rejoiced. Note, Nothing rejoices the heart of the Lord Jesus so much as the progress of the gospel, and its getting ground of Satan, by the conversion of souls to Christ. Christ's joy was a solid substantial joy, an inward joy: he rejoiced in spirit; but his joy, like deep waters, made no noise; it was a joy that a stranger did not intermeddle with. Before he applied himself to thank his Father, he stirred up himself to rejoice; for, as thankful praise is the genuine language of holy joy, so holy joy is the root and spring of thankful praise. Two things he gives thanks for:—

(1.) For what was revealed by the Father through the Son: I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, v. 21. In all our adorations of God, we must have an eye to him, both as the Maker of heaven and earth and as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and in him our Father. Now that which he gives thanks for is, [1.] That the counsels of God concerning man's reconciliation to himself were revealed to some of the children of men, who might be fit also to teach others, and it is God that by his Son has spoken these things to us and by his Spirit has revealed them in us; he has revealed that which had been kept secret from the beginning of the world. [2.] That they were revealed to babes, to those who were of mean parts and capacities, whose extraction and education had nothing in them promising, who were but children in understanding, till God by his Spirit elevated their faculties, and furnished them with this knowledge, and an ability to communicate it. We have reason to thank God, not so much for the honour he has hereby put upon babes, as for the honour he has hereby done himself in perfecting strength out of weakness. [3.] That, at the same time when he revealed them unto babes, he hid them from the wise and prudent, the Gentile philosophers, the Jewish rabbin. He did not reveal the things of the gospel to them, nor employ them in preaching up his kingdom. Thanks be to God that the apostles were not fetched from their schools; for, First, they would have been apt to mingle their notions with the doctrine of Christ, which would have corrupted it, as afterwards it proved. For Christianity was much corrupted by the Platonic philosophy in the first ages of it, by the Peripatetic in its latter ages, and by the Judaizing teachers at the first planting of it. Secondly, If rabbin and philosophers had been made apostles, the success of the gospel would have been ascribed to their learning and wit and the force of their reasonings and eloquence; and therefore they must not be employed, lest they should have taken too much to themselves, and others should have attributed too much to them. They were passed by for the same reason that Gideon's army was reduced: The people are yet too many, Judges vii. 4. Paul indeed was bred a scholar among the wise and prudent; but he became a babe when he became an apostle, and laid aside the enticing words of man's wisdom, forgot them all, and made neither show nor use of any other knowledge than that of Christ and him crucified, 1 Cor. ii. 2, 4. [4.] That God herein acted by way of sovereignty: Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight. If God gives his grace and the knowledge of his son to some that are less likely, and does not give it to others whom we should think better able to deliver it with advantage, this must satisfy: so it pleases God, whose thoughts are infinitely above ours. He chooses to entrust the dispensing of his gospel in the hands of those who with a divine energy will give it the setting on, rather than in theirs who with human art will give it the setting off.

(2.) For what was secret between the Father and the Son, v. 22. [1.] The vast confidence that the Father puts in the Son: All things are delivered to me of my Father, all wisdom and knowledge, all power and authority, all the grace and comfort which are intended for the chosen remnant; it is all delivered into the hands of the Lord Jesus; in him all fulness must dwell, and from him it must be derived: he is the great trustee that manages all the concerns of God's kingdom. [2.] The good understanding that there is between the Father and the Son, and their mutual consciousness, such as no creature can be admitted to: No man knows who the Son is, nor what his mind is, but the Father, who possessed him in the beginning of his ways, before his works of old (Prov. viii. 22), nor who the Father is, and what his counsels are, but the Son, who lay in his bosom from eternity, was by him as one brought up with him, and was daily his delight (Prov. viii. 30), and he to whom the Son by the Spirit will reveal him. The gospel is the revelation of Jesus Christ, to him we owe all the discoveries made to us of the will of God for our salvation; and here he speaks of being entrusted with it as that which was a great pleasure to himself and for which he was very thankful to his Father.

5. He told his disciples how well it was for them that they had these things revealed to them, v. 23, 24. Having addressed himself to his Father, he turned to his disciples, designing to make them sensible how much it was for their happiness, as well as for the glory and honour of God, that they knew the mysteries of the kingdom and were employed to lead others into the knowledge of them, considering, (1.) What a step it is towards something better. Though the bare knowledge of these things is not saving, yet it puts us in the way of salvation: Blessed are the eyes which see the things which we see. God therein blesseth them, and, if it be not their own fault it will be an eternal blessedness to them. (2.) What a step it is above those that went before them, even the greatest saints, and those that were most the favourites of Heaven: "Many prophets and righteous men" (so it is in Matt. xiii. 17), many prophets and kings (so it is here), "have desired to see and hear those things which you are daily and intimately conversant with, and have not seen and heard them." The honour and happiness of the New-Testament saints far exceed those even of the prophets and kings of the Old Testament, though they also were highly favoured. The general ideas which the Old-Testament saints had, according to the intimations given them, of the graces and glories of the Messiah's kingdom, made them wish a thousand times that their lot had been reserved for those blessed days, and that they might see the substance of those things of which they had faint shadows. Note, The consideration of the great advantages which we have in the New-Testament light, above what they had who lived in Old-Testament times, should awaken our diligence in the improvement of it; for, if it do not, it will aggravate our condemnation for the non-improvement of it.

See Also:

Sermons on Luke 10:1-24

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