Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Matthew 10:24-33

Mat 10:24  The disciple is not above the master, nor the servant above his lord.

Having foretold persecutions, our Lord now adduces some considerations, for the purpose of animating them to bear the persecutions in store for them, with courage and patience. He first employs certain familiar adages, clearly understood, and, probably, in vogue among the Jews, such as, the disciple and servant cannot expect better treatment, or to be better off than their master and lord. This is applied to Himself, next verse. So, He adduces His own example, in the first instance, to animate and encourage them.

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 servant and disciple should be content with being treated as well as their master and lord; nor should they refuse to submit to the same privations which their master had to undergo.

“If they called the good-man of the house.” In this, as well as in the preceding verse, we cannot but admire and adore the wonderful modesty of our Lord, who speaks of Himself in the third person, “the good-man of the house,” Himself, who is the head and founder of God’s house, the Church, of which the Apostles were members and inmates.

“Beelzebub,” which means, “Lord of flies,” dominus muscarum, an idol of the Accaronites, so called, either because he was invoked by these Pagans against the plague of flies, or because the blood of victims, with which he was besmeared, attracted the flies, and caused the idol to be covered all over with them. This filthy idol was such an object of horror and execration to the Jews, that they designated the devil by that name; just as they called Gehenna, hell, owing to the shocking and barbarous rites carried on there by the Chanaanites. This opprobious epithet, the Jews did not scruple, in the height of their fury and malevolence, to apply to our blessed Lord, as is expressly mentioned here, although we find no place in the Gospel where they call Him such. It is only said of Him, that He makes use of Beelzebub, “in principe Dæmoniorum, Beelzebub, ejicit dæmonia” (Matt. 12:24). But here it is expressly stated, they called Him Beelzebub, very likely, when their rage and malevolence had reached the highest pitch of excitement. If He, the Lord and Master of the house, was treated with such contumely, His disciples should be content, with His Divine example before their eyes, to bear reproaches and contumely with meekness and patience.

Mat 10:26  Therefore fear them not. For nothing is covered that shall not be revealed: nor hid, that shall not be known.

“Therefore,” as in suffering reproaches and calumnies, as well as in persecutions of all sorts, you are only enduring what your Lord and Master had to endure before you. “Fear them not.” Fear not their calumnies, nor any punishment they may desire to inflict on you.

“For, nothing is covered,” &c. As a motive for consolation to the Apostles, these words may mean: That, although the private virtues of the Apostles, and their upright motives may now be hidden and unknown, in the Day of Judgment, and even in this life, their hidden virtues would be made known, and the hypocrisy and malignity of their persecutors publicly revealed or exposed, so that men would now honour them, in proportion to the contumelious treatment they were hitherto subjected to; or, that, although the Gospel was now regarded by men as hidden and obscure, the day would soon come, when it would be announced and believed all over the earth; and, hence, the Apostles should not be deterred by calumnies and opposition, from courageously announcing it. This accords well with the following.

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.

“The dark,” and “the ear,” mean, privately; “the light,” and “the house-tops,” denote, publicly, OPENLY. “House-tops,” is allusive to the style of houses in Judea They had flat roofs, which served as a usual promenade for the people. What was said there might be overheard by others; and it might be regarded as spoken in public. There are two evils which cause men the greatest pain—the loss of honour, and the loss of life. Our Redeemer, in this and the preceding verses, fortifies His Apostles against any fear regarding the former. In time, their honour, their character, shall be publicly vindicated. In the following verse, He fortifies them against any timid fears regarding the latter; and although He had already spoken of the loss of life (v. 21), still, He here first treats of the loss of character; because, honour is held in the greatest estimation among men, and He had been treating of the contumelious, reproachful treatment they should endure immediately before (v. 25).

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.
Having fortified them against the fear of infamy and calumnies, He now fortifies them against the fear of death. He wishes them to overcome, by the consideration of the fear of God, the inordinate fear of man, which might influence them to desert the proper line of duty, and offend God.

“That kill the body,” by depriving it of temporal life, which, in any event, it is destined soon to lose. They can go no farther. They cannot kill the soul, by either depriving it of immortality, or, what is worse, of the life of grace or glory, which is the second death of the soul. But, if they fear at all, “but rather,” let them fear Him, who will not kill soul or body—for carnal men would wish for this—but by an eternal living death, or dying life, “can”—irrevocably—“destroy both soul and body in hell,” where their worm shall never die, and their fire shall never be extinguished (Isa. 66:24). This refers to God, to whom alone belongs the high prerogative of life and death. To demons, the Scripture never ascribes such a prerogative.

Mat 10:29  Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and not one of them shall fall on the ground without your Father.

Our Lord here adduces another reason to fortify them against fear of persecution, and of the loss of life. Nothing happens in this world save by the will and superintending providence of God, who will not permit anything to befall them, except as far as He sees it will tend to their greater good. This He demonstrates, from the example of the most worthless and insignificant objects in nature.

“Two sparrows,” worthless birds—one is hardly worth mentioning—“sold for a farthing.” “Farthing,” is put up for the smallest coin, “and not one of them,” which is hardly worth anything, “shall fall on the ground,” shall be killed by falling dead from the air to the earth. “Without your Father,” without His special providence and permission. The words, “your Father,” have a peculiar significance in the present matter. He is their Father, and can hardly be said to have this relation in regard to “sparrows.” When the Apostle says (1 Cor. 9:9), “Doth God take care for oxen?” there is no contradiction between these words and the words of our Redeemer. Our Redeemer speaks of God’s general providence, which extends to the minutest things, to the very brute animals, and provides for them according to the course of general laws (Gen. 8:1; Psa. 146:9; Job 38:41); whereas, the Apostle speaks of a special providence exerted by Him, as Father, towards man. He speaks of a law, suggesting humanity, which was chiefly intended for man, rather than for oxen (1 Cor. 9:10). In this passage there is question of this two-fold providence of God—of His general provision for all creatures, according to the operation of certain fixed laws, and of His special providence as Father, “your Father,” which makes special provision for man, and ordains His law, in regard to irrational creatures, for his special benefit, and has regard to all men, without exception of persons (Wisdom 6:8).

Mat 10:30  But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.

“But, the very hairs,” &c. “But” (δε, καὶ) signifies, nay more, the most insignificant and superfluous parts of your persons are under God’s special providence. Instead of inferring from the foregoing (v. 29)—as one would imagine—whereas the sparrows are not killed, save with God’s permission, with how much greater concern will your Father protect you from being killed; or, should death befall you, it will be arranged by Him for your greater good; our Redeemer goes farther, and says, that not only are their life, and the members of their bodies, a subject of concern to God, but so, also, are the very hairs of their head. It is an argumentum a minore ad majus.

“Have been numbered.” The past tense is meant to show, that already are placed under God’s special care and protection, not alone, their life, their members; but the very minutest parts of them.

Mat 10:31  Fear not therefore: better are you than many sparrows.
“Fear not, therefore,” &c. Proceed intrepidly and courageously in the holy work of preaching the Gospel, committing yourselves to God’s special providence. “Therefore,” expresses the practical conclusion from the foregoing.

“You,” on whose account the sparrows and all animals exist—which is common to all men—and who are specially the sons of God, “are better,” &c. Although hated by all men, proceed, therefore, courageously to your work of preaching, casting yourselves on God’s providence, who will provide for you better than you could for yourselves, and will make your sufferings subserve to His own greater glory, and your final salvation.

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

Having animated His disciples already against persecutions, without fear of infamy or death, our Redeemer now animates them by placing before them the utility of confessing Him, and the misfortune entailed by the denial of Him.

“Therefore,” may be an inference from the foregoing (16–22), or it may be regarded as a continuation of the preceding, as in Luke (12:28). “And I say to you,” &c. Here, is conveyed an additional reason to preach Christ intrepidly. “Every one that shall,” by word, or example, or by act, “confess Me before men,” in due circumstances, and shall persevere to the end in doing so, and, interrogated by tyrants regarding the faith, shall openly and ingenuously profess that he believes in Me, as the eternal Son of God, and shall also, sooner than violate My law, submit to death, thus honouring Me and My law, such a one, “HIM,” “will I also confess before my Father,” &c., i.e., I shall honour him before all mankind on the Day of Judgment (Mark 8:38), “cum venerit filius hominis,” &c. He here proposes a reward, to induce them to preach Him intrepidly; and He contrasts, the glory which they shall publicly receive, in presence of His Heavenly Father, and all mankind, with the honour they give Him before men. He compares His Father and the Angels (Luke 12) with men, and Himself with us, mortals.

Mat 10:33  But he that shall deny me before men, I will also deny him before my Father who is in heaven.
If the hope of reward will not animate them, then let the fear of punishment do so. There are certain circumstances in which the open confession of our faith is a matter of precept, under pain of damnation. “He will deny them; He will know them not,” and so they shall be condemned, “discedite a me, &c.”

For “confess Me,” the Greek is, “confess in Me,” a Hebrew and Greek construction for “confess ME;” or, the words may mean, as with Maldonatus, “glory in Me,” make Me the subject of their glorying in due circumstances; in Him shall I glory, and make the subject of my boasting, in turn. Or, “in Me,” may mean, concerning Me.

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

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

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