Father Maas’ Commentary on Matthew 10:24-33

Mat 10:24  The disciple is not above the master, nor the servant above his lord.
Mat 10:25  It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the good man of the house Beelzebub, how much more them of his household?

The disciple is not above the master. β. The apostles’ relation to their Master and Lord. The consolation contained in this passage is drawn from the fact that Jesus has suffered the same or similar hardships; the two proverbs contained in vv. 24, 25 express the same truth, with this difference, that the first is worded negatively, the second positively. Whatever other proverbs may be quoted against the two now in question, it remains certainly true that the disciple, as long as he is disciple, and the servant, as long as he is servant, must be content with the honor and the proficiency of their master and lord. This consolation contained in the example of the suffering lord and master is the reason why the suffering saints of the New Testament express themselves so differently from those of the Old Testament: cf. Rom. 5:3; 1 Pet. 4:14; Ps. 72:2–13; Jer. 12:1–3; 20:14–18; etc. We read that the Pharisees accused Jesus of expelling devils by the power of Beelzebub [Mt. 12:24; Lk. 11:15], and that the scribes accused him of having Beelzebub [Mk. 3:22], but it is not stated anywhere that the Jews called our Lord Beelzebub. Euthymius is of opinion that the Jews may have added this calumny to their other blasphemies, and that our Lord referred to it because it pained him more than all the others; Knabenbauer considers that another reading of the Greek text, found in B* and adopted by Lachmann, may be the correct one, because, according to it, we must render, “if they have objected Beelzebub [i.e. his alliance] against the good-man of the house.” Jesus calls himself “the good-man of the house” because he considers his Church as his family, and the apostles are the members of his household. Finally, commentators have found difficulty in explaining the word “Beelzebub.” The Greek codd. and some Latin ones read “Beelzebul,” a word susceptible of a double interpretation: for it may be derived from כַּעַל זֶכֶל or from בַּעַל וְבוּל. The former derivation gives us the meaning “lord of dung,” the latter “lord of the habitation.” It is true that in the language of Talmudic writers “dung” and the verbs connected with it are used to express idol-worship; but if the word in question were thus derived, it ought to read “Beelzabel,” as we read “Jezabel” [cf. Schanz, Weiss]. The other name, “lord of the habitation.” does not directly signify “the devil,” though the word itself may allude to the title “good-man of the house,” claimed by our Lord. The opinion of Holzammer [Kirchenl. 2 ed. sub Baal], that the later Jews called the supreme god of Accaron, Beelzebub, also Beelzebul or “lord of the heavenly mansion,” because the god had that title among his worshippers, is a mere conjecture. The more probable view considers Beelzebul a mere variation of Beelzebub, as Beliar is a variation of Belial, and Bab el mandel of Bab el mandeb [cf. Wolf Baudissin, Real-encyclop. für protestant. Theol. 2 ed. ii. p. 210]. Beelzebub or בַּעַל זְבוּב signifies “lord of flies,” the idol being invoked against pestilence from flies. This idea of Beelzebub agrees with Josephus [Ant. IX. ii. 1], 4 Kings 1:2, the lxx. version, and the Latin and Greek name of the deity [myiagrus dens, Ζεὺς ʼΑπόμυιος]. Scholz [Götzendienst und Zauberwesen, 1877, p. 173] is of opinion that Beelzebub was taken as the representative god of Accaron because his statue was the most ugly of all the statues of the idols.

Mat 10:26  Therefore fear them not. For nothing is covered that shall not be revealed: nor hid, that shall not be known.
Mat 10:27  That which I tell you in the dark, speak ye in the light: and that which you hear in the ear, preach ye upon the housetops.

Therefore fear them not. γ. Future revelation. The “therefore” refers back to what Jesus has said about his own suffering in his apostolic ministry; the apostles shall share his glory. The latter is described more in particular:—

[1] “Nothing is covered that shall not be revealed,” i. e. the ignored truth of the gospel message shall come to be recognized [Jansenius, Lam, Calmet, Arnoldi], or the justice of the apostles shall be made known together with the wickedness of their enemies [Chrysostom, Theophylact, Euthymius, Opus Imperfectum, Theodoret, heracl. in cat. Maldonado, Lapide, Bisping, Schanz, Knabenbauer], or the day of judgment will vindicate the cause of the apostles and bring their enemies to their deserved punishment [Hilary, Jerome, Bede, Paschasius, Dionysius, Cajetan, Sylveira], or the apostles’ name shall be glorified both in this life and in the day of judgment [Fillion], or the apostles shall be glorified in this life and their message shall be made known [Reischl], or finally, the message of the apostles shall come to be known, their cause shall be rectified both in this life and in the day of judgment [Alb., Barradas].

[2] “That which I tell you in the dark, speak ye in the light.” Though Lightfoot and Schöttg. are of opinion that this passage alludes to the practice in the synagogue according to which a passage from Scripture was read first in Hebrew, and then translated into the popular dialect by a Targumist, there is really little correspondence between the words of our Lord and the foregoing custom; Schanz, etc. have a better right of appealing to the custom of the Rabbis, who used to reserve certain favorite portions of their doctrine for the ears of their favorite disciples, and Knabenbauer regards the language, perhaps with still greater probability, as metaphorically expressing the small and unknown part of the earth in which Jesus instructed his disciples [cf. Chrysostom]. Since proclamations are often made in the East from the flat housetops, there is nothing extraordinary in the injunction of our Lord; it merely indicates the publicity and the fearlessness with which the apostles must accomplish their ministry.

Mat 10:28  And fear ye not them that kill the body, and are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him that can destroy both soul and body in hell.

And fear ye not them that kill the body. δ. Weakness of the enemy. Our Lord here touches the utmost suffering that the enemies of his name can inflict on the apostles; but even this punishment is nothing but the death of the body, a temporal evil, which is a mere nothing compared with the eternal death inflicted by God himself on his enemies and his unfaithful apostles [cf. Mt. 5:29, 30]. If, then, the apostles, in spite of their confirmation in grace, were warned to fear the eternal punishment of God, what must not be said to an ordinary disciple of Christ [cf. Knabenbauer]?

Mat 10:29  Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and not one of them shall fall on the ground without your Father.
Mat 10:30  But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
Mat 10:31  Fear not therefore: better are you than many sparrows.

Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? ε. Special divine providence. It is not only through fear that our Lord wishes the apostles to perform the duties of their calling amidst the outer difficulties of persecution, but also through a trustful confidence in the special care of divine providence. The existence of the latter is proved by an appeal to the care God takes of even the smallest creatures. Little birds are still strung together and sold for two farthings in the towns of Palestine [Farrar]; our Lord alludes to this custom, for the Greek text reads “little birds” instead of “sparrows” [only Lk. 12:6, 7 and here in New Testament, but often in lxx.], and fixes the price of a pair at a farthing [as], or about one cent. Still even the “little bird” enjoys the special care of providence, so that he cannot be shot or struck down or die in any other manner without the special intervention of providence. This doctrine fully agrees with God’s love of all creatures [Wisd. 11:25], and his care for the brute creation [Prov. 12:10], while it does not contradict the absence of that special providence in the case of animals which he accords his rational creatures [1 Cor. 9:9; cf. Cornely, ad l.]. Jerome warns us here against superstition, and Hilary appears to stretch the meaning of the passage too far, when he infers the licitness of bird-catching from it. Our Lord descends to objects of even less value, “the very hairs of your head,” and shows that God’s providence extends even to them, for the saying proverbially expresses special care [1 Sam 14:45; Lk. 21:18; Acts 27:34] what is numbered is known to its master, and cared for individually [Chrysostom, Euthymius, Jerome, Lapide]. Our Lord finally infers a practical conclusion for the apostles: they exceed many sparrows in value, and need not therefore fear.

Mat 10:32  Every one therefore that shall confess me before men, I will also confess him before my Father who is in heaven.
Mat 10:33  But he that shall deny me before men, I will also deny him before my Father who is in heaven.

Every one therefore that shall confess me. ζ. the faithful and the unfaithful confessor. The Greek text reads, “that shall confess in me”; Wichelhaus sees here an influence of the Hebrew, but “to confess in” is as foreign to Hebrew as it is to Greek; Fritzsche, Weiss, etc. admit an Aramaic influence in this phrase, and they thus arrive at the meaning “to testify in one’s cause” [Grimm] or “to testify by one’s person” Arnoldi, Keil, Weiss, Wichelh.]; Euthymius and Cyril explain the “in me” as equivalent to “me,” while Chrysostom and Theophylact interpret it “by my grace,” “in my strength.” Heracleon [Clement of Alexandria, Strom, iv. p. 595] and Origen [cat.] suggest the meaning “in union with me,” according to the promise that there shall be mutual union between Christ and his faithful servants [Jn. 15:4; Rom. 3:24; 6:5, 11; etc.]. According to this explanation it is clear why Jesus promises in the second part of the verse, “I will also confess in him.” The confession in question is not the merely secret adherence of the heart, but extends to an outward profession of discipleship [Rom. 10:10], though the inward faith must be the root of the outward confession [op. imp.]. According to Schöttgen “to deny a master” amounted among the Rabbis to a refusal of having him as one’s teacher; the denial of Jesus before his Father implies that such a one will not be the heir of the heavenly kingdom, but will suffer the fate described in Mt. 8:12. The preaching of the gospel is therefore in very deed unto the ruin and the resurrection of many.

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One Response to Father Maas’ Commentary on Matthew 10:24-33

  1. Pingback: Commentaries for the Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A | stjoeofoblog

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