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healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease 24 among the people. And his fame went throughout all Syria and they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatick,
scholars were wont to be instructed before their masters in the synagogue" (Talmud). Lastly, the Synagogues were the Divinity Schools or Theological Colleges among the Jews.
4. The affairs of the Synagogue were administered by ten men, of whom three, called "Rulers of the Synagogue," acted as judges, admitted proselytes and performed other important functions. A fourth was termed the "Angel of the Church" or bishop of the congregation; three others were deacons or almoners. An eighth acted as "interpreter," rendering the Hebrew into the Vernacular; the ninth was the master of the Divinity School, the tenth his interpreter; see ch. x. 27.
It is interesting to trace in the arrangements of the Synagogue part of the organization of the Christian Church. This note is chiefly due to Lightfoot ad loc.
preaching the gospel of the kingdom] i. e. "heralding the good tidings," for the thought see ch. iv. 3 note, and cp. Is. xl.
The word translated gospel does not occur in St Luke or St John, it is a favourite word with St Paul, but is elsewhere used twice only in the N. T., viz. 1 Peter iv. 17 and Rev. xiv. 6.
It is desirable to observe the original and spiritual form of the expression, "to preach the gospel," for the words are sometimes used in a narrow and polemical sense.
24. throughout all Syria] The fame passes to the north and east, rather than to the south. Galilee is connected by trade and affinity with Damascus rather than with Jerusalem.
torments] The original Greek word signifies a "touch-stone," then "torture," the touch-stone of justice; then a disease that racks and agonizes the limbs like the torture which many a poor Galilean had experienced in the courts of law.
possessed with devils] The possession of the human soul by spiritual powers or beings is distinguished from ordinary diseases here, and also by St Luke, who, as a physician, is exact in his description of the various forms of disease. The distinguishing feature of such demoniacal possession may be described as the phenomenon of double consciousness. The occult spiritual power becomes, as it were, a second self, ruling and checking the better self. The Greek word in the text, lit. subject to a dæmon or dæmonion, has no precise English equivalent. The word "devil" should be confined to the translation of diáßolos, see note, ch. iv. I. It is most unhappily used as a rendering of dauóvia in I Cor. x. 20, 21. In classical Greek the word is used of the divine voice which warned Socrates, and of the divine power or force which Demosthenes sometimes fancied to be hurrying on the Hellenic race in a fatal course.
and those that had the palsy; and he healed them. And 25 there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judea, and from beyond Jordan.
Sermon on the Mount.
And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: 5
those which were lunatick] Lit. affected by the moon; the changes of the moon being thought to influence mad persons. The passage is important as distinguishing dæmoniacal possession from lunacy.
The only special instance of curing a lunatic is recorded in ch. xvii. 14-21 and in the parallel passages. The origin of mental disease may often be traced to licentious living. Observe the frequent instances of unclean spirits met with in these districts.
The Christian Church has followed her divine Founder's example in this tendance of bodily ailment. The founding of hospitals and the care of the sick are distinguishing features of Christianity and among the most blessed fruits of it. A deeper respect for life and a deeper sense of purity have followed as necessary consequences.
It is contended by some that the "several house" of 2 Chron. xxvi. 21 was a hospital. Possibly this was so, but the spirit of Judaism in this respect was not the spirit of Christianity. It may readily be acknowledged, however, that the Jews of the present day are the foremost in works of charity and tender regard for the sick.
25. Decapolis] Lit. a group of ten cities. The cities included in this group are variously named by different authors, they lay to the E. and S. of the Sea of Galilee; by some Damascus is mentioned as belonging to the group.
CH. V. VII. SERMON ON THE MOUNT.
It is instructive to find the Sermon on the Mount following close upon the works of mercy which would open men's hearts to receive the Saviour's words. It is a discourse about the changed life or Metanoia, showing its conditions; and about the Kingdom or Basileia, showing its nature, legislation, and privileges.
The description of the Kingdom here given may be compared with the thoughts suggested by Satan in the Temptation. Jesus makes no promise to conquer the world, or to dazzle men by a display of power, or to satisfy bodily wants, making poverty cease.
In regard to heathenism the sermon is a contrast, in regard to the Jewish Law it is a sublime fulfilment. Again, instead of curses there are blessings, instead of penalties, reward.
Two questions are raised in regard to the Sermon on the Mount (1) Is it a connected discourse, and not merely a collection of our Lord's sayings? (2) Is it to be identified with the Sermon on the Plain, Luke vi. 17-49?
It is probable that the answer should be in the affirmative to each
and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: and he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,
question. 1. (a) This is the most natural inference from the Evange list's words and from the manner in which the discourse is introduced. (b) An analysis points to a close connection of thought and to a systematic arrangement of the different sections of the Sermon. (c) The objection that some of the sayings are found in a different connection in St Luke's Gospel cannot have great weight. For it is more than probable that our Lord repeated on many occasions various portions of His teaching. 2. (a) The beginning and end are identical as well as much of the intervening matter. (b) The portions omitted—a comparison between the old and the new legislation-are such as would be less adapted for St Luke's readers than for St Matthew's. (c) The "mount" and the "plain" are not necessarily distinct localities. The plain is more accurately translated "a level place," a platform on the high land. (d) The place in the order of events differs in St Luke, but it is probable that here as well as elsewhere St Matthew does not observe the order of time.
Here the question of time is important as bearing on a further question, whether Matthew was himself among the audience. Was the Sermon delivered after the call of the twelve (Luke) or before (Matthew)?
The following analysis may be of use in showing the connection.
A. The Subjects of the Kingdom, v. 3—16.
(1) Their character and privileges, v. 3—12.
B. The Kingdom of Heaven in relation (1) to the Law, v. 1748; and (2) to Pharisaic rules, vi. 1—34.
(1) It is the highest fulfilment of the law in regard to (a) The Decalogue, v. 21-37. (b) The law of Retaliation, 38-42. (c) Love or Charity, 43-48.
(2) It exceeds the righteousness of the Pharisees in regard to (a) Almsgiving, vi. 1—4; (b) Prayer, vi. 5-15; (c) Fasting, vi. 16-18; (d) Earthly possessions and daily cares, vi. 19—34.
C. Characteristics of the Kingdom, vii. 1-27. (a) Judgment on others, vii. 1-6. (b) The Father's love for the Children of the Kingdom, 7-12. (c) The narrow entrance therein, 13, 14. (d) The danger of false guides to the narrow entrance, and the test of the true, 15-23. (e) A description of the true subjects of the Kingdom, as distinguished from the false, 24-27.
1. a mountain] Accurately, the mountain, the high land bordering on the Lake, behind Tell Hûm or Et Tabigah, which the inhabitants of those places would naturally call "the mountain" (see map). It was the Sinai of the New Law. Cp. Ps. Ixxii. 3.
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom 3 of heaven.
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be com- 4 forted.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the 5 earth.
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after right- 6 eousness: for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. 7
he was set] The usual position of a Jewish teacher. In the Talmud "to sit" is nearly synonymous with "to teach."
his disciples came unto him] This may be regarded as the beginning of the Christian Church.
A. The Subjects of the Kingdom, v. 3—16.
(1) Their character and privileges, v. 3-12.
3. Blessed are the poor in spirit] The beatitudes-so called from the opening word "beati " (blessed), in the Vulgate. Mark the Christian growth step by step. First, spiritual poverty, the only character which is receptive of repentance, therefore alone admissible into the Kingdom. Secondly, sadness for sin. Thirdly, meekness, implying submission to the will of God, a characteristic of Jesus Himself, who says "I am meek and lowly in heart." Fourthly, the soul-hunger for righteousness. Then three virtues of the Christian life, each of which wins, without seeking it, a reward in an ascending scale-mercy, purity, peacemaking. (It is a little remarkable that the English language supplies no abstract term to express this last, the highest grace of the Christian life.) The last two beatitudes vv. 10, II may be regarded as encouragements to the disciples, and as tests of their true discipleship.
poor in spirit] Opposed to the spiritually proud, the just who need no repentance. St Luke omits "in spirit," showing that the literal poor are primarily meant, St Matthew shows that they are not exclusively meant.
4. mourn] Those who mourn for sin are primarily intended; but the secondary meaning, "those who are in suffering and distress," is not excluded. The first meaning is illustrated by 2 Cor. vii. 10, "For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of, but the sorrow of the world worketh death."
5. the meek] Ps. xxxvii. 11. "But the meek shall inherit the earth." See note v. 3. Meekness is mentioned with very faint praise by the greatest of heathen moralists, Aristotle. He calls it "a mean inclining to a defect." It is indeed essentially a Christian virtue.
6. This longing for righteousness is God's gift to the meek.
7. they shall obtain mercy] This principle in the divine Government that men shall be dealt with as they deal with their fellow-men is taught in the parable of the Unmerciful Servant, ch. xviii., and underlies the fifth petition in the Lord's Prayer, ch. vi. 12.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness'
Blessed are ye, when men shall revile
Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your re-
Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good
8. pure in heart] Purity is a distinguishing virtue of Christianity. It finds no place even in the teaching of Socrates, or in the system of Aristotle. Pure in heart "non sufficit puritas ceremonialis." Bengel.
shall see God] The Christian education is a gradual unveiling of God, all have glimpses of Him, to the pure He appears quite plainly. Cp. 1 John iii. 2, 3. In a further sense the unveiled sight of God is reserved for the Eternal life.
9. peacemakers] not only in the sense of those who heal dissension. Peace is used in a deeper sense, "the peace of God," Phil. iv. 7; "the peace of Christ," Col. iii. 15.
children of God] These are most akin to the divine nature, perfect as their Father which is in heaven is perfect, v. 48, cp. 1 John iii. 1, "Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us that we should be called the Sons of God."
10, 11. for righteousness' sake......for my sake] Observe these limi tations. The cause in which a man suffers is everything. Many Galilæan zealots who had been persecuted, reviled, traduced, when they rose against Herod or the Roman power had no share in this blessed
12. so persecuted they the prophets...] Persecution is a test and token of true discipleship, that which naturally brings distress and despair to men will bring delight in the kingdom of God. The passion and death of Christ gave a fresh force to these words, see 1 Peter iv. 13, 14.
(2) Their responsibility, v. 13-16.
Ye are the salt of the earth] Here the disciples and primarily the Apostles are addressed. Those who fulfil the condition of discipleship have a responsibility laid upon them.
have lost his savour] i.e. become tasteless. Salt is essential to all organized life, it is also the great preservative from corruption. If these virtues pass from it, it is worse than useless. It cannot even be thrown on the fields, it must be cast into the street to be trodden under foot. (See a very interesting illustration of this in Land and Book,