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An Exposition Of The Gospels by The Most Rev. John Macevilly D.D.

1–12. (See Matt. 21:33–46).

13–17. (See Matt. 22:16–22).

18–27. (See Matt. 22:23–33).

28–34. (See Matt. 22:34–39).

33. “And to love one’s neighbour as himself, is a greater thing than all holocausts and sacrifices.” These words were not explicitly uttered by our Redeemer, although implied in the words (v. 31) “There is no other commandment greater than these.” They are the words of the Scribe, who, although he may in the commencement have approached in a captious spirit (St. Matthew, 22, says, “tempting Him,” which however, does not always necessarily imply a captious motive), now taken with our Redeemer’s doctrine and manner, thoroughly approves of it; and in his words it is conveyed, that the Jewish Priests, perhaps from motives of avarice, proclaimed that “holocausts and sacrifices,” of every kind, were the most acceptable homage paid to God, obedience and the interior virtues not excepted, notwithstanding the express teaching of Holy Scriptures to the contrary (Psa. 59:14, &c.; 50:18–21).

34. “Not far from the kingdom of God.” His remarks on our Lord’s doctrine showed, he respected our Lord; and, although not yet a follower or Christian—“not far”—still, he seemed disposed to co-operate with the grace of God, in embracing the faith.

35–37. (See Matt. 22:41–46).

38. “And He said to them in His doctrine,” i.e., while teaching and instructing them, “Beware,” &c.

38, 39. (See Matt. 23:5, 6, 7).

40. (See Matt. 23:14).

41. “Sitting over against the treasury.” Our Lord reposed a little after disputing with the Pharisees. “Over against,” i.e., opposite. Treasury, in the Vulgate, Gazophylacium, a word of mixed Persian and Greek origin. Gaza, meant treasures among the Persians; Phylacium, a Greek word, means a repository, or place for guarding a thing (Bede). The word, “treasury,” though in its general acceptation denoting a place for preserving treasures of gold or silver, is frequently employed in the Scriptures of the Old Testament, to denote a place for keeping the treasures destined for the use of the temple. Sometimes, it signifies a large, capacious place, a chamber adjoining the porticoes of the temple, destined for holding the wealth of every kind belonging to the temple (1 Paralip. 28:12; Jer. 35:4; 2 Esdras 10:37). Sometimes, it is used to denote chests or pillars destined for receiving the oblations of the people presented for the use of the temple and like sacred purposes.

Such a chest was first ordered by Joas (4 Kings 12:9; 2 Paralip. 24:8). It is to such, reference is made here. In the time of our Lord, the most celebrated repository was that placed at the Eastern gate, at the extremity of the halls of Israel and of the women, where the concourse of people entering and leaving was greatest. It is probable, a chest or pillar of this kind was placed at each gate of the temple, to afford all an opportunity of contributing. It was opposite the Eastern gate, our Lord sat. He thus had an opportunity of seeing the people deposit their contributions in this chest destined for receiving them.

42. “Which make a farthing,” may mean, that each of the mites made a farthing, which is more probable; because, according to Plutarch, in his life of Cicero, “quadrans minimum est in nummorum genere,” or, the “two mites” together may have made only one farthing of Roman money. This small sum, which she may have gained by begging or hard labour, she gave, lest she might appear before God empty-handed.

43. Our Lord never omits an opportunity of imparting instruction. What He says here manifestly refers to the sum given, not absolutely, but relatively, as is clear from the following verse.

44. Others cast in out of their superfluities, whereas she cast in all she possessed including what was absolutely necessary for the very sustenance of life. His words may also mean—and were intended to mean—that she reaped more merit before God, than any of the rest, whether the gift itself, and its circumstances, or the dispositions of the giver be considered. This is very consoling to the poor, when, out of their poverty, they give alms for God’s sake.

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