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BISHOP LIGHTFOOT'S WORKS
Published by John Strype
and George Bright in Two Folio Volumes
PRIMARY INDEX ISOLATED FROM VOLUME ONE "Day of the Lord, Christ's coming in glory and in the clouds, signify only Christ's taking vengeance on the Jewish nation, xi. 303. xii. 433. The Son cometh was expressed to be the same, xi. 304. Day of judgement, and day of vengeance, put for Christ's coming with vengeance to judge the Jewish nation; there are six different ways of expressing it, 404." (Index, "Day of the Lord")
Then shall they see the sign of the Son of man, &c. Not any visible appearance of Christ, or of the cross in the clouds [as some have imagined,] but whereas the Jews would not own Christ before for the Son of man, or for the Messias, then by the vengeance that he should execute upon them, they and all the world should see an evident sign, that he was so. This therefore is called his coming, and his coming in his kingdom, Matth. 17.28.
A Commentary of the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica
EXCERPTS ON THIS PAGE:
unwilling to have meddled with The Revelation, partly because I have no mind
to be bold in things of that nature (I see too much daring with that Book
already), and partly, because I could not go along with the common stating
of the times, and matter there" (preface, Harmony)
VOLUME ONE EXCERPTS
"A Decree of Augustus given out at Rome, becomes an occasion of accomplishing a Decree of the Lords, namely of the Birth of the Messias at Bethlehem. He is born under a Roman taxation, and now that Prophecie of Chittim or Italy afflicting Heber, Numb. 24.24. beginneth livelily to take place." (Works, 1st. Ed., Vol. 1; Harmony, p. 4)
"Daniel knowing from Jeremies Prophecie, that the seventy years of Captivity were now fully expired, addresseth himself to God by prayer for their return: he receiveth not only a gracious answer to his desire, but a Prediction of what times should pass over his people till the death of Christ; namely, seventy weeks, or seventy times seven years, or four hundred and ninety. This space of time the Angel divideth into three unequal parts.
1. Seven sevens, or forty nine years, to the finishing of Jerusalems
"The Jews speaks of divers ominous things that occurred fourty years before the destruction of the City; As it is a tradition that fourty years before the Sanctuary was destroyed the Western Lamp went out, and the scarlet list kept its redness, and the Lords lot came up on the left hand. And they locked up the Temple doors at even, yet when they rose in the morning they found them open. Jerus. in Joma fol.43.col.3. And, Sanhedr. fol.18.col.1. Fourty years before the Temple was destroyed, power of judging in capital matters was taken away from Israel: Now there are some that reckon but thirty eight years between the death of Christ and the destruction of the City; and if that be so, then these ominous presages occurred this year that we are upon. It being just fourty years, by that account, from this Passover at which Christ healeth the diseased man at Bethesda, to the time of Titus his pitching him Camp and siege about Jerusalem, which was at Passover." (Works, 1st. Ed., Vol. 1; Harmony, p. 21)
The aim of his speech, or, to what time and purpose it refers, may be discerned by the question of the Disciples, to which it is an answer. When shall these things be, viz. that one stone of the Temple shall not be left upon another? Mark 13.4 Luke 21.7. and so it relates plainly to the destruction of the Temple and City. But Matthew hath added; And what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? from whence it is conceived by some, that the speech doth aim at the end of the world, and Christs last coming unto judgment. It is true indeed that the close of his speech in Matthew 24 doth speak plainly of the last judgment, and that many of those terrible things mentioned, Matt. 24. may very well typifie the terrours of the last day, but the prime and proper scope of the speech in that 24th. Chapter, is to set forth the destruction of Jerusalem, and the rejection and misery of the Jewish nation; as may be observed by these particulars.
1. Because in Matth. 24.15, 16. He points directly to time and place, when and where these things shall be, viz. when the Temple shall be profaned, then these things come, &c..
2. Especially consider ver.34. Verily I say unto you; this generation shall not pass till all these things be fulfilled. This generation, not meaning Generatio Evangelica, as some do harshly interpret it, but as it means in Matth. 23.36. Luke 11.31,32. and abundance of other places in the New Testament, the generation then in being.
3. The destruction of Jerusalem, is phrased in Scripture as the destruction of the whole world, Jer. 4.23. Isa. 65.17. and Christ coming to her in judgment, as his coming to the last judgment, Matth. 17.28. John 21.22. Math. 19.28. Rev. 1:7, &c.
Therefore those dreadful things spoken of in ver. 29,30,31. are but borrowed expressions to set forth the terrors of that judgment the more. Ver. 29. The Sun shall be darkened, &c. shew the decay of all glory, excellency and prosperity in that Nation, and the coming in of all sadness, misery and confusion: as Isa. 13.10. Joel. 2.10. Ver. 30. Then shall they see the sign of the Son of man, &c. Not any visible appearance of Christ, or of the cross in the clouds [as some have imagined,] but whereas the Jews would not own Christ before for the Son of man, or for the Messias, then by the vengeance that he should execute upon them, they and all the world should see an evident sign, that he was so. This therefore is called his coming, and his coming in his kingdom, Matth. 17.28. because this did first declare his power, glory, and victory on that nation that had despised him. Ver. 31 He shall send his Angels with a great sound of a Trumpet, &c.. that is, his Ministers with the Trumpet of the Gospel, to fetch in his elect from among the Gentiles when the JEws were now destroyed and cast off. And the false Christs, and false Prophets that should arise, ver. 5.24. arose in that Nation in those last days of it, as is abundantly evident both in the New Testament, and in Josephus : And those wars and rumors of wars, and Nation rising against Nation, &c. ver. 6,7. were accomplished not only in the horrid civil wars among the Jews, but also in the great concussions in Roman Empire, in the wars betwixt Otho and Vitellius, and betwixt Vitellius and Vespasian, [of which the Roman Historians, especially Tacitus is very large] the like to which, there had not been before, even to the sacking of Rome itself, and the burning of the Capitol."
"As to the later, the meaning of Christ in the words, I will no more drink of the fruit of the vine, &c. is, that the Kingdom of God was no so near, that this was the last meat and drink, or the last meal that he was to have, before that came. By the Kingdom of God, meaning his resurrection and forward, when God by him had conquered death, Satan and Hell." (p. 271)
"Caiaphas adjures him to tell whether he was the Christ or no, he confesseth, and withal tells them that the time should come that they should find the truth of this by experience, when he should shew his power and vengeance in his judgment against them, and their City, coming in clouds, &c." (p. 263)
The Chronicle and Order of the Acts of the Apostles; The Epistles, and the Revelation.
"His alleadging of Joel, In the last daies I will pour out my Spirit, &c. teacheth us how to construe the phrase, The last daies, in exceeding many places both of the Old Testament and the New, as Isa. 2.1. I Tim. 4.1. and 2 Tim. 3.1. I Pet. 4.7. I Joh. 2.19, &c. namely for the last daies of Jerusalem and the Jewish State. For to take his words in any other sense [as some do for the last daies of the world] is to make his allegation utterly impertinent and monstrous." (p. 276)
"He saith, The wrath is come upon them to the utmost: which whether it mean passively, that the wreath of God law so heavy upon them, or actively, that in their vexation and anger against the Gentiles, that was come upon them, that was foretold for a plague to them, Deut. 32.21 it sheweth that that Nation was now become unrecoverable : and so he looks upon it as the Antichrist in the next Epistle.." (p. 296)
(On the Day of the Lord)
(On the Mystery of Iniquity)
(On 2 Thess. 2:6-7)
(On Matthew 24:7-9)
A fitter period of time whence to begin the punctual taking place of that prediction, we can hardly point out, then this very year that we are upon, a center between two critical years : the year before beginning the persecution of Christians at Rome, and the year following beginning the Wars of the Jews in Judea." (p. 335)
(On the Dating of First Peter)
(On AD70 as picture of Baptism)
When he judgeth those that perished in the waters of Noah to be now in prison, ver. 19. he knew he had the consent of his Nation in it " for thus they say in Sanhedr. per. 10. halac.3. The generation of the flood have no portion in the world to come : neither shall they stand up in Judgment; for it is said, My Spirit shall no more judge with man, Gen. 6.3. Peter teacheth us that the Spirit that strove with the old world, was the Spirit of Messias." (p. 336)
"The abomination of desolationhad now begun to stand in the holy place, Matth. 24.15. when the Temple is made a Garrison, and filled with slaughter ; Antonia, the Castle of the Temple, beseiged, taken, and the Roman Garrison put to the sword. The Tabernae, or part of the buildings at the East wall of the mountain of the House [the place were the Sanhedrin had once sitten,] fired and burnt down. Jerus. in Peah. fol. 16. col.3. And in a word, the Temple from this time forwards, never but a Garrison, and full of slaughter and confusion till it be raked up in ashes." (p. 337)
"Now it was time for those that were in Judea, who believed Christs prediction, to get into the Mountains, and to shift for themselves, for now begins the tribulation beyond parallel, such as was not since the beginning of the world, nor ever must again, Matth. 24.21. It is commonly asserted that the Christians fled to Pella a City beyond Jordan : Euseb. Eccles. Hist. lib. 3. cap. 5. which how to reconcile with Josephus, who saith Pella was one of the Cities that the Jews destroyed in avengement of the slaughter of the 20000 in Caesarea, De Bell. lib. 2. cap. 33. let the Learned find." (p. 337)
"About these times therefore we may well conceive to have been the writing of THE SECOND EPISTLE OF PETER. And that the rather from what speaks in Chap. I. ver. 14. I know that I must shortly put off this tabernacle, as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me. In which words, his thoughts reflect upon what Christ had spoken to John and him about their ends, John 21. where he not only gave intimation to Peter that he should be Martyred, ver. 18. but that he should be so, before his coming in Judgment against Jerusalem, which John must live to see, but he must not, ver. 22. He therefore in Babylon, understanding how affairs went in Judea and with the Jewish Nation all thereabout, and reading therein, from the words of his Mater, Matth. 24. that the desolation was drawing on apace, concludes that his time was not long : and therefore improves the time he hath remaining the best he can, not only in teaching those amongst whom he was, but by writing this Epistle instructeth those that were remote and at distance from him ; in which he doth more especially give them caution against false teachers : and characters the terrour of the judgment coming, and exhorts to vigilancy and holiness." (p. 338)
"He sets forth the destruction of that cursed Nation and their City in those terms that Christ had done, Matt. 24. and that the Scripture doth elsewhere, Deut. 32.22,23.24. Jer. 4.23. namely as the destruction of the whole world, The heavens passing away, the elements melting, and the earth burnt up, &c. And accordingly speaks of a new heaven and a new earth, from Isa. 65.17. a new state of the Church under the Gospel among the Gentiles, when this old world of the Jews state should be dissolved." (p. 338)
"AS it will be easily admitted to place this Book last of all the New Testament, because it stands so in all Bibles, so on the other hand it will be cavilled at, that I have brought in the writing of it so soon, as before the fall of Jerusalem, since it hath been on old and commonly held, that it was penned in the reign of Domitian, far after the times that we are upon : But the reasons by which I have been induced thereunto, will appear out of some passages in the Book it self as we go through it." (p. 340)
"The composure of the Book is much like Daniels in this, that it repeats one story over and over again, in varied and inlarged expressions : and exceeding like Ezekiel's in method and things spoken. The style is very Prophetical, as to the things spoken ; and very Hebraizing, as to the speaking of them. Exceeding much of the old Prophets language, and matter adduced to intimate new stories : and exceeding much of the Jews language, and allusion to their customs and opinions, thereby to speak the things more familiarly to be understood. And as Ezekiel wrote concerning the ruine of Jerusalem, when the ruining of it was now begun, so I suppose doth John of the final destruction of it, when the Wars and miseries were now begun, when bred its destructions." (p. 340)
"He terms the Holy Ghost, the seven Spirits, according to the Jews common speech, who from Isa. 11.2. speak much of the seven Spirits of Messias : and speaking of Christ coming with clouds, Chap. 1.7. from Dan. 7.13. and from the words of Christ himself, Matth. 24.30. He at once teacheth that he takes at Daniel, and speaks of Christs coming and reigning, when the four Monarchies were destroyed, and especially referreth to the first most visible evidence of his power and dominion, in coming to destroy his enemies the Jewish Nation, and their City. And here is one reason that induceth me to suppose this Book written, before that City was destroyed." (Works, Vol. I. p. 341)
"He seeth Christ inthroned in the middle of his Church, in the same Prophetick and visionary Embleme that Ezekiel had seen, Ezek. I. & 10. and this is a commentary and fulfilling of that scene that Daniel speaketh of, Dan. 7.9, 01, 22. In Ezekiel, the Lord, when Jerusalem was now to be destroyed, and the glory of the Lord that used to be there, and the people were to flit into antother Land, appeareth so inthroned, as sitting in Judgment and flitting away by degrees to another place : as compare Ezek. I. & 10. well together. So Christ here ; when the destruction of Jerusalem was now near at hand, and his glory and presence to remove from that Nation, now given up to unbelief and obduration, to reside among the Gentiles, he is seated upon his throne as Judge and King with glorious attendance, to judge that Nation for their sins and unbelief, and stating the affairs of his Church wither his glory was now removing." (p. 342)
"REVEL. CHAP. VI.
THE opening of the six Seals in this Chapter, speaks the ruine and rejection of the Jewish Nation, and the desolation of their City ; which is now very near at hand.
The first Seal opened, ver. 2. shews Christ setting forth in Battel array and avengement against them, as Psal. 45.4,5. And this the New Testament speaketh very much and very highly of, one while calling it his coming in clouds, another while his coming in his Kingdom, and sometime his coming in Power and great Glory, and the like. Because his plagueing and destroying of the Nation that crucified him, that so much opposed and wrought mischief against the Gospel, was the first evidence that he gave in sight of all the world of his being Christ : for till then, he and his Gospel had been in humility, as I may say, as to the eyes of men, he persecuted whilest he was on Earth, and they persecuted after him, and no course taken with them that so used both, but now he awakes, shews himself, and makes himself known by the Judgment that he executeth.
The three next Seals opening, shew the means by which he did destroy, namely those three sad plagues that had been threatned so oft and so sore by the Prophets, Sword, Famine and Pestilence. For
The second Seal opened sends out one upon a red Horse to take Peace from the Earth, and that men should destroy one another ; he carried a great Sword, ver. 4.
The third Seals opening speaks of Famine, when Corn for scarcity should be weighed like spicery in a pair of ballances, ver. 5,6.
The fourth Seal sends out one on a pale Horse whose name was Death [ the Chaldee very often expresseth the Plague or Pestilence by that word : and so it is to be taken Revel. 2.22. ] and Hell or Hades comes after him, ver. 8.
The opening of the fifth Seal reveals a main cause of the vengeance, namely the blood of the Saints which had been shed, crying, and which was to be required of that generation, Matth. 23. 35, 36. These souls are said to cry from under the Altar, either in allusion to the blood of creature sacrificed, poured at the foot of the Altar, or according to the Jews tenet, That all just souls departed are under the Throne of Glory. Answer to their cry is given, that the number of the Brethren that were to be slain was not yet fulfilled, and they must rest till that should be, and then avengement in their behalf would come. This speaks sutable to that which we observed lately, that now times were begun of bitter persecution, an hour of temptation, Rev. 2. 10 & 3.10. the Jews and Devil raging, till the Lord should something cool that fury by the ruine of that people.
The opening of the sixth Seal, ver. 12,3. shews the destruction itself in those borrowed terms that the Scripture useth to express it by, namely as if it were the destruction of the whole world : as Matth. 24.29, 30. The Sun darkened, the Stars falling, the Heaven departing and the Earth dissolved, and that conclusion ver. 16. They shall say to the rocks fall on us, &c. doth not only warrant, but even inforce us to understand and construe these things in the sense that we do : for Christ applies these very words to the very same thing, Luke 23.30. And here is another, and, to me, a very satisfactory reason, why to place the shewing of these visions to John, and his writing of this Book before the desolation of Jerusalem.
REVEL. CHAP. VII.
IN the end of the former Chapter was contained the intimation of the desolation of Jerusalem, and in the beginning of this, the ceasing of Prophecie, under the similitude of the four winds restrained from blowing upon the Earth. Compare Cant. 4.16. Ezek. 37.9. only a remnant of Israel are sealed unto salvation, and not to perish by that restraint, and with them innumerable Gentiles. Ezekiel helpeth here to confirm the explication that we have given of the Chapter before : for he hath the very like passage, upon the first destruction of the City, Ezek. 9. & 10. 11. Compare the marking in the foreheads here, with Exod. 28.38. Dan is not mentioned among the Tribes in this place : Idolatry first began in that Tribe, Judg. 18. I King. 12" (pp. 342-343)
"THE opening of the seventh Seal lands us upon a new scene : as a new world began when Jerusalem was destroyed and the Jews cast off." (p. 343)
"REVEL. CHAP. XXI.
"THE Jerusalem from above described. The phrase is used by Paul, Gal. 4.26. and it is used often by the Jews : Zohar fol. 120. col. 478. Rabbi Aba saith, Luz is Jerusalem which is above, which the holy blessed God gives for a possession, where blessings are given by his hand in a pure Land : but to impure Land no blessings to be at all. Compare Revel. 21.27, & 22.15. Midras. Till. in Psal. 122. Jerusalem is built as a City that is compacted together. R. Jochanan saith, The holy blessed God said, I will not go into Jerusalem that is above, until I have gone into Jerusalem that is below &c.
Ezekiels Jerusalem, as we observed, was of a double signification, namely as promising the rebuilding of the City after the Captivity, and foretelling of the spiritual Jerusalem, the Church under the Gospel, and that most especially : At that John taketh at here, and that is the Jerusalem that he describeth. And from Isa. 65.17, 18. joyneth the creating new Heavens and a new Earth ; and so stateth the time of building this new Jerusalem, namely at the coming in of the Gospel, when all things are made new, 2 Cor. 5.17. A new People, new Ordinences, new Oeconomy, and the old World of Israel dissolved. Though the desciption of this new City be placed last in the Book, yet the building of it was contemporary with the first things mentioned in it about the calling of the Gentiles. When God pitched his Tabernacle amongst them, as he had done in the midst of Israel, Levit. 26.11, 12. That Tabernacle is pitched in the fourth and fifth Chapters of this Book : And now all tears wiped away and no more sorrow, death nor pain, vers. 4. which if taken literally could refer to nothing but the happy estate in Heaven [of which the glory of this Jerusalem may indeed by a figure,] but here, as the other things are, it is to be taken mystically or spiritually, to mean the taking away the curse of the Law, and the sting of death and sin, &c. No condemnation to be to those that are in Christ Jesus." (p. 355-356)
"He is commanded not to seal his Book, as Daniel was, Dan. 12.4. because the time of these things was instantly beginning, and Christs coming to reveal his glory in avengement upon the Jewish Nation and casting them off, and to take in the Gentiles in their stead was now at the door, within three and an half or thereabout to come, if we have conjectured the writing of this Book to its proper year. There are two more of Nero, and one of confusion in the Roman Empire in the Wars of Otho, Vitellius, and Vespasian, and the next year year after Jerusalem falls." (p. 356)
"And thus if this Book of the Revelation were written last of the Books of the New Testament, as by the consent of all it was, then may we say, Now was the whole will of God revealed and committed to writing, and from henceforth must Vision and Prophecie and Inspiration cease for ever." (p. 357)
Concerning the FALL of
The Condition of the JEWS in that Land after.
BEING come so near to the time of the destruction of Jerusalem, as that it is but three years and an half and a little more from the time we have concluded with unto it, and having so frequent occasion to mention that destruction, and vengeance upon that Nation, as we have had : It may not be amiss to drive so far further as to take a view of such a spectacle; not that we go about to write the History of their Wars and ruine, which were but to transcribe Josephus, who is in every mans hand, but to take a brief account of the times thither, and of the condition of the Nation in that Land afterward, the History of which is not altogether so obvious as the other : by both which we may not only see the performance of those threatenings of vengeance, that had been so abundantly given : but may the better judge wherein that vengeance did chiefly consist.
(On I Peter 3:20,21)
A Commentary of the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica
1. And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to show him the buildings of the temple.
[To shew him the buildings of the Temple.] "He that never saw the Temple of Herod never saw a fine building. What was it built of? Rabba saith, Of white and green marble. But some say, Of white, green, and spotted marble. He made the laver to sink and to rise" (that is, the walls were built winding in and out, or indented after the manner of waves), "being thus fitted to receive the plaster, which he intended to lay on; but the Rabbins said to him, 'O let it continue, for it is very beautiful to behold: for it is like the waves of the sea': and Bava Ben Buta made it so," &c. See there the story of Bava Ben Buta and Herod consulting about the rebuilding of the temple.
2. And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
[There shall not be left one stone upon another.] The Talmudic Chronicles bear witness also to this saying, "On the ninth day of the month Ab the city of Jerusalem was ploughed up"; which Maimonides delivereth more at large: "On that ninth day of the month Ab, fatal for vengeance, the wicked Turnus Rufus, of the children of Edom, ploughed up the Temple, and the places about it, that that saying might be fulfilled, 'Sion shall be ploughed as a field.'" This Turnus Rufus, of great fame and infamy among the Jewish writers, without doubt is the same with Terentius Rufus, of whom Josephus speaks, Rufus was left general of the army by Titus; with commission, as it is probable, and as the Jews suppose, to destroy the city and Temple. Concerning which matter, thus again Josephus in the place before quoted, The emperor commanded them to dig up the whole city and the Temple. And a little after, "Thus those that digged it up laid all level, that it should never be inhabited, to be a witness to such as should come thither."
3. And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?
[And what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?] What the apostles intended by these words is more clearly conceived by considering the opinion of that people concerning the times of the Messias. We will pick out this in a few words from Babylonian Sanhedrin.
"The tradition of the school of Elias: The righteous, whom the Holy Blessed God will raise up from the dead, shall not return again to their dust; as it is said, 'Whosoever shall be left in Zion and remain in Jerusalem shall be called holy, every one being written in the book of life.' As the Holy (God) liveth for ever, so they also shall live for ever. But if it be objected, What shall the righteous do in those years in which the Holy God will renew his world, as it is said, 'The Lord only shall be exalted in that day?' the answer is, That God will give them wings like an eagle, and they shall swim (or float) upon the face of the waters." Where the Gloss says thus; "The righteous, whom the Lord shall raise from the dead in the days of the Messiah, when they are restored to life, shall not again return to their dust, neither in the days of the Messiah, nor in the following age: but their flesh shall remain upon them till they return and live to eternity. And in those years, when God shall renew his world (or age), this world shall be wasted for a thousand years; were, then, shall those righteous men be in those years, when they shall not be buried in the earth?" To this you may also lay that very common phrase, the world to come; whereby is signified the days of the Messiah: of which we spoke a little at the thirty-second verse of the twelfth chapter: "If he shall obtain (the favour) to see the world to come, that is, the exaltation of Israel," namely, in the days of Messiah. "The Holy Blessed God saith to Israel, In this world you are afraid of transgressions; but in the world to come, when there shall be no evil affection, you shall be concerned only for the good which is laid up for you; as it is said, 'After this the children of Israel shall return, and seek the Lord their God, and David their king,'" &c.; which clearly relate to the time of the Messiah. Again, "Saith the Holy Blessed God to Israel, 'In this world, because my messengers (sent to spy out the land) were flesh and blood, I decreed that they should not enter into the land: but in the world to come, I suddenly send to you my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before my face.'"
See here the doctrine of the Jews concerning the coming of the Messiah:
1. That at that time there shall be a resurrection of the just: The Messias shall raise up those that sleep in the dust.
2. Then shall follow the desolation of this world: This world shall be wasted a thousand years. Not that they imagined that a chaos, or confusion of all things, should last the thousand years; but that this world should end and a new one be introduced in that thousand years.
3. After which eternity should succeed.
From hence we easily understand the meaning of this question of the disciples:--
1. They know and own the present Messiah; and yet they ask, what shall be the signs of his coming?
2. But they do not ask the signs of his coming (as we believe of it) at the last day, to judge both the quick and the dead: but,
3. When he will come in the evidence and demonstration of the Messiah, raising up the dead, and ending this world, and introducing a new; as they had been taught in their schools concerning his coming.
7. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.
[Nation shall rise against nation.] Besides the seditions of the Jews, made horridly bloody with their mutual slaughter, and other storms of war in the Roman empire from strangers, the commotions of Otho and Vitellius are particularly memorable, and those of Vitellius and Vespasian, whereby not only the whole empire was shaken, and the fortune of the empire changed with the change of the whole world, (they are the words of Tacitus), but Rome itself being made the scene of battle, and the prey of the soldiers, and the Capitol itself being reduced to ashes. Such throes the empire suffered, now bringing forth Vespasian to the throne, the scourge and vengeance of God upon the Jews.
9. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake.
[Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted.] To this relate those words of 1 Peter 4:17, "The time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God"; that is, the time foretold by our Saviour is now at hand, in which we are to be delivered up to persecution, &c. These words denote that persecution which the Jews, now near their ruin, stirred up almost everywhere against the professors of the gospel. They had indeed oppressed them hitherto on all sides, as far as they could, with slanders, rapines, whippings, stripes, &c. which these and such like places testify; 1 Thessalonians 2:14,15; Hebrews 10:33, &c. But there was something that put a rub in their way, that, as yet, they could not proceed to the utmost cruelty; "And now ye know what withholdeth"; which, I suppose, is to be understood of Claudius enraged at and curbing in the Jews. Who being taken out of the way, and Nero, after his first five years, suffering all things to be turned topsy turvy, the Jews now breathing their last (and Satan therefore breathing his last effects in them, because their time was short), they broke out into slaughter beyond measure, and into a most bloody persecution: which I wonder is not set in the front of the ten persecutions by ecclesiastical writers. This is called by Peter (who himself also at last suffered in it) a fiery trial; by Christ, dictating the epistles to the seven churches, tribulation for ten days; and the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world of Christians. And this is "the revelation of that wicked one" St. Paul speaks of, now in lively, that is, in bloody colours, openly declaring himself Antichrist, the enemy of Christ. In that persecution James suffered at Jerusalem, Peter in Babylon, and Antipas at Pergamus, and others, as it is probable, in not a few other places. Hence, Revelation 6:11,12 (where the state of the Jewish nation is delivered under the type of six seals), they are slain, who were to be slain for the testimony of the gospel under the fifth seal; and immediately under the sixth followed the ruin of the nation.
12. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.
[The love of many shall wax cold.] These words relate to that horrid apostasy which prevailed everywhere in the Jewish churches that had received the gospel. See 2 Thessalonians 2:3, &c.; Galatians 3:1; 1 Timothy 1:15, &c.
14. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.
[And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world.] Jerusalem was not to be destroyed before the gospel was spread over all the world: God so ordering and designing it that the world, being first a catechumen in the doctrine of Christ, might have at length an eminent and undeniable testimony of Christ presented to it; when all men, as many as ever heard the history of Christ, should understand that dreadful wrath and severe vengeance which was poured out upon that city and nation by which he was crucified.
15. When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand):
[The abomination of desolation.] These words relate to that passage of Daniel (chapter 9:27) which I would render thus; "In the middle of that week," namely, the last of the seventy, "he shall cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease, even until the wing or army of abomination shall make desolate," &c.; or, even by the wing of abominations making desolate....
[Let him that readeth understand.] This is not spoken so much for the obscurity as for the certainty of the prophecy: as if he should say, "He that reads those words in Daniel, let him mind well that when the army of the prince which is to come, that army of abominations, shall compass round Jerusalem with a siege, then most certain destruction hangs over it; for, saith Daniel, 'the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city, and the sanctuary,' &c., verse 26. 'And the army of abominations shall make desolate even until the consummation, and that which is determined shall be poured out upon the desolate.' Flatter not yourselves, therefore, with vain hopes, either of future victory, or of the retreating of that army, but provide for yourselves; and he that is in Judea, let him fly to the hills and places of most difficult access, not into the city." See how Luke clearly speaks out this sense in the twentieth verse of the one-and-twentieth chapter.
20. But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day:
[That your flight be not in the winter.] R. Tanchum observes a favour of God in the destruction of the first Temple, that it happened in the summer, not in winter. For thus he: "God vouch-safed a great favour to Israel; for they ought to have gone out of the land on the tenth day of the month Tebeth, as he saith, 'Son of man, mark this day; for on this very day,' &c. What then did the Lord, holy and blessed? 'If they shall now go out in the winter,' saith he, 'they will all die': therefore he prolonged the time to them, and carried them away in summer."
22. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened.
[Those days shall be shortened.] God lengthened the time for the sake of the elect, before the destruction of the city; and in the destruction, for their sakes he shortened it. Compare with these words before us 2 Peter 3:9, "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise," &c. It was certainly very hard with the elect that were inhabitants of the city, who underwent all kinds of misery with the besieged, where the plague and sword raged so violently that there were not living enough to bury the dead; and the famine was so great, that a mother ate her son (perhaps the wife of Doeg Ben Joseph, of whom see such a story in Babyl. Joma). And it was also hard enough with those elect who fled to the mountains, being driven out of house, living in the open air, and wanting necessaries for food: their merciful God and Father, therefore, took care of them, shortening the time of their misery, and cutting off the reprobates with a speedier destruction; lest, if their stroke had been longer continued, the elect should too far have partaken of their misery.
The Rabbins dream that God shortened the day on which wicked king Ahab died, and that ten hours; lest he should have been honoured with mourning.
24. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
[Shall shew great signs and wonders.] It is a disputable case, whether the Jewish nation were more mad with superstition in matters of religion, or with superstition in curious arts.
I. There was not a people upon earth that studied or attributed more to dreams than they. Hence
1. They often imposed fastings upon themselves to this end, that they might obtain happy dreams; or to get the interpretation of a dream; or to divert the ill omen of a dream: which we have observed at the fourteenth verse of the ninth chapter.
2. Hence their nice rules for handling of dreams; such as these, and the like: Let one observe a good dream two-and-twenty years, after the example of Joseph: "If you go to bed merry, you shall have good dreams," &c.
3. Hence many took upon them the public profession of interpreting dreams; and this was reckoned among the nobler arts. A certain old man (Babyl. Beracoth) relates this story; "There were four-and-twenty interpreters of dreams in Jerusalem: and I, having dreamed a dream, went to them all: every one gave a different interpretation, and yet they all came to pass," &c. You have R. Joses Ben Chelpatha, R. Ismael Ben R. Joses, R. Lazar, and R. Akiba interpreting divers dreams, and many coming to them for interpretation of their dreams. Nay, you see there the disciples of R. Lazar in his absence practising this art. See there also many stories about this business, which it would be too much here to transcribe.
II. There were hardly any people in the whole world that more used, or were more fond of, amulets, charms, mutterings, exorcisms, and all kinds of enchantments. We might here produce innumerable examples; a handful shall serve us out of the harvest: "Let not any one go abroad with his amulet on the sabbath day, unless that amulet be prescribed by an approved physician" (or, "unless it be an approved amulet"; see the Gemara). Now these amulets were either little roots hung about the necks of sick persons, or, what was more common, bits of paper with words written on them whereby they supposed that diseases were either driven away or cured: which they wore all the week, but were forbid to wear on the sabbath, unless with a caution: "They do not say a charm over a wound on the sabbath, that also which is said over a mandrake is forbid" on the sabbath. "If any one say, Come and say this versicle over my son, or lay the book" of the law "upon him, to make him sleep; it is forbid": that is, on the sabbath, but on other days is usual.
"They used to say the psalm of meetings (that is, against unlucky meetings) at Jerusalem. R. Judah saith, Sometimes after such a meeting, and sometimes when no such meeting had happened. But what is the Psalm of Meetings? The third psalm, 'Lord, how are my foes increased!' even all the psalm: and the ninety-first psalm, 'He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High,' to the ninth verse." There is a discourse of many things, which they used to carry about with them, as remedies against certain ailments; and of mutterings over wounds: and there you may see, that while they avoid the enchantments of the Amorites, they have and allow their own. You have, Bab. Joma, fol, 84.1, the form of an enchantment against a mad dog. And, Avodah Zarah, fol. 12.2, the form of enchantment against the devil of blindness. You have, Hieros. Schab. fol 13.4, and Avod. Zarah, fol. 40.4, mutterings and enchantments, even in the name of Jesus. See also the Babyl. Sanhedr. fol. 101.1, concerning these kind of mutterings.
III. So skilful were they in conjurings, enchantments, and sorceries, that they wrought great signs, many villanies, and more wonders. We pass by those things which the sacred story relates of Simon Magus, Elymas, the sons of Sceva, &c., and Josephus, of others; we will only produce examples out of the Talmud, a few out of many.
You will wonder, in the entrance, at these two things, in order to the speaking of their magical exploits; and thence you will conjecture at the very common practice of these evil arts among that people: 1. That "the senior who is chosen into the council ought to be skilled in the arts of astrologers, jugglers, diviners, sorcerers, &c., that he may be able to judge of those who are guilty of the same." 2. The Masters tell us, that a certain chamber was built by a magician in the temple itself: "The chamber of Happarva was built by a certain magician, whose name was Parvah, by art-magic." "Four-and-twenty of the school Rabbi, intercalating the year at Lydda, were killed by an evil eye": that is, with sorceries. R. Joshua outdoes a magician in magic, and drowns him in the sea. In Babyl. Taanith, several miracles are related that the Rabbins had wrought. Elsewhere, there is a story told of eighty women-sorceresses at Ascalon, who were hanged in one day by Simeon Ben Shetah: "and the women of Israel (saith the gloss) had generally fallen to the practice of sorceries": as we have mentioned before. It is related of abundance of Rabbis, that they were skilful in working miracles: thus Abba Chelchia, and Chanin, and R. Chanina Ben Dusa; of which R. Chanina Ben Dusa there is almost an infinite number of stories concerning the miracles he wrought, which savour enough and too much of magic.
And, that we may not be tedious in producing examples, what can we say of the fasting Rabbis causing it to rain in effect when they pleased? of which there are abundance of stories in Taanith. What can we say of the Bath Kol very frequently applauding the Rabbins out of heaven? of which we have spoken before. What can we say of the death or plagues foretold by the Rabbins to befall this or that man? which came to pass just according as they were foretold. I rather suspect some magic art in most of these, than fiction in all.
IV. False Christs broke out, and appeared in public with their witchcrafts, so much the frequenter and more impudent, as the city and people drew nearer to its ruin; because the people believed the Messias should be manifested before the destruction of the city; and each of them pretended to be the Messias by these signs. From the words of Isaiah, "Before her pain came, she was delivered of a man child," the doctors concluded, "that the Messias should be manifested before the destruction of the city." Thus the Chaldee paraphrast upon the place; "She shall be saved before her utmost extremity, and her king shall be revealed before her pains of childbirth." Mark that also; "The Son of David will not come, till the wicked empire [of the Romans] shall have spread itself over all the world nine months; as it is said, 'Therefore will he give them up, until the time that she which travaileth hath brought forth.'"
27. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
[For as the lightning, &c.] To discover clearly the sense of this and the following clauses, those two things must be observed which we have formerly given notice of:--
1. That the destruction of Jerusalem is very frequently expressed in Scripture as if it were the destruction of the whole world, Deuteronomy 32:22; "A fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell" (the discourse there is about the wrath of God consuming that people; see verses 20,21), "and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains." Jeremiah 4:23; "I beheld the earth, and lo, it was without form and void; and the heavens, and they had no light," &c. The discourse there also is concerning the destruction of that nation, Isaiah 65:17; "Behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered," &c. And more passages of this sort among the prophets. According to this sense, Christ speaks in this place; and Peter speaks in his Second Epistle, third chapter; and John, in the sixth of the Revelation; and Paul, 2 Corinthians 5:17, &c.
2. That Christ's taking vengeance of that exceeding wicked nation is called Christ's "coming in glory," and his "coming in the clouds," Daniel 7. It is also called, "the day of the Lord." See Psalm 1:4; Malachi 3:1,2, &c.; Joel 2:31; Matthew 16:28; Revelation 1:7, &c. See what we have said on chapter 12:20; 19:28.
The meaning, therefore, of the words before us is this: "While they shall falsely say, that Christ is to be seen here or there: 'Behold, he is in the desert,' one shall say; another, 'Behold, he is in the secret chambers': he himself shall come, like lightning, with sudden and altogether unexpected vengeance: they shall meet him whom they could not find; they shall find him whom they sought, but quite another than what they looked for."
28. For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.
[For wheresoever the carcase is, &c.] I wonder any can understand these words of pious men flying to Christ, when the discourse here is of quite a different thing: they are thus connected to the foregoing: Christ shall be revealed with a sudden vengeance; for when God shall cast off the city and people, grown ripe for destruction, like a carcase thrown out, the Roman soldiers, like eagles, shall straight fly to it with their eagles (ensigns) to tear and devour it. And to this also agrees the answer of Christ, Luke 17:37; when, after the same words that are spoke here in this chapter, it was inquired, "Where, Lord?" he answered, "Wheresoever the body is," &c.; silently hinting thus much, that Jerusalem, and that wicked nation which he described through the whole chapter, would be the carcase, to which the greedy and devouring eagles would fly to prey upon it.
29. Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:
[The sun shall be darkened, &c.] That is, the Jewish heaven shall perish, and the sun and moon of its glory and happiness shall be darkened, and brought to nothing. The sun is the religion of the church; the moon is the government of the state; and the stars are the judges and doctors of both. Compare Isaiah 13:10, and Ezekiel 32:7,8, &c.
30. And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
[And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man.] Then shall the Son of man give a proof of himself, whom they would not before acknowledge: as proof, indeed, not in any visible figure, but in vengeance and judgment so visible, that all the tribes of the earth shall be forced to acknowledge him the avenger. The Jews would not know him: now they shall now him, whether they will or no, Isaiah 26:11. Many times they asked of him a sign: now a sign shall appear, that he is the true Messias, whom they despised, derided, and crucified, namely, his signal vengeance and fury, such as never any nation felt from the first foundations of the world.
31. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
[And he shall send his angels, &c.] When Jerusalem shall be reduced to ashes, and that wicked nation cut off and rejected, then shall the Son of man send his ministers with the trumpet of the gospel, and they shall gather together his elect of the several nations from the four corners of heaven: so that God shall not want a church...
34. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.
[This generation shall not pass, &c.] Hence it appears plain enough, that the foregoing verses are not to be understood of the last judgment, but, as we said, of the destruction of Jerusalem. There were some among the disciples (particularly John), who lived to see these things come to pass. With Matthew 16:28, compare John 21:22. And there were some Rabbins alive at the time when Christ spoke these things, that lived till the city was destroyed, viz. Rabban Simeon, who perished with the city, R. Jochanan Ben Zaccai, who outlived it, R. Zadoch, R. Ismael, and others.
36. But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.
[No man knoweth, no, not the angels.] This is taken from Deuteronomy 32:34: "Is not this laid up in store with me, and sealed up among my treasures?"
37. But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
[But as the days of Noe were, &c.] Thus Peter placeth as parallels, the ruin of the old world, and the ruin of Jerusalem, 1 Peter 3:19-21; and by such a comparison his words will be best understood. For, see how he skips from the mention of the death of Christ to the times before the flood, in the eighteenth and nineteenth verses, passing over all the time between. Did not the Spirit of Christ preach all along in the times under the law? Why then doth he take an example only from the times before the flood? that he might fit the matter to his case, and shew that the present state of the Jews was like theirs in the times of Noah, and that their ruin should be like also. So, also, in his Second Epistle, chapter 3:6,7.
The age or generation of the flood hath no portion in the world to come: thus Peter saith, that "they were shut up in prison": and here our Saviour intimates that "they were buried in security," and so were surprised by the flood.
3. And as he sat upon the mount of Olives over against the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately,
[Upon the mount of Olives, over against the Temple.] "The east gate of the Court of the Gentiles had the metropolis Sushan painted on it. And through this gate the high priest went out to burn the red cow." And, "All the walls of that court were high, except the east wall; because of the priest, when he burnt the red cow, stood upon the top of mount Olivet, and took his aim, and looked upon the gate of the Temple, in that time when he sprinkled the blood." And, "The priest stood with his face turned westward, kills the cow with his right hand, and receives the blood with the left, but sprinkleth it with his right, and that seven times, directly towards the Holy of Holies."
It is true, indeed, the Temple might be well seen from any tract of Olivet: but the word over against, if it doth not direct to this very place, yet to some place certainly in the same line: and it cannot but recall to our mind that action of the high priest.
7. And when ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars, be ye not troubled: for such things must needs be; but the end shall not be yet.
[Be not troubled.] Think here, how the traditions of the scribes affrighted the nation with the report of Gog and Magog, immediately to go before the coming of the Messiah:--
"R. Eliezer Ben Abina saith, When you see the kingdoms disturbing one another, then expect the footsteps of the Messiah. And know that this is true from hence, that so it was in the days of Abraham; for kingdoms disturbed one another, and then came redemption to Abraham." And elsewhere; "So they came against Abraham, and so they shall come with Gog and Magog." And again, "The Rabbins deliver. In the first year of that week [of years] that the Son of David is to come, shall that be fulfilled, 'I will rain upon one city, but I will not rain upon another,' Amos 4:7. The second year, the arrows of famine shall be sent forth. The third, the famine shall be grievous, and men and women and children, holy men, and men of good works, shall die. And there shall be a forgetfulness of the law among those that learn it. The fourth year, fulness, and not fulness. The fifth year, great fulness; for they shall eat and drink and rejoice, and the law shall return to its scholars. The sixth year, voices. (The Gloss is, 'A fame shall be spread, that the Son of David comes,' or, 'they shall sound with a trumpet.') The seventh year, wars; and in the going out of that seventh year the Son of David shall come."
8. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these are the beginnings of sorrows.
[These are the beginnings of sorrows.] Isaiah 66:7,8: Before she travailed she brought forth; before the labour of pains came she was delivered, and brought forth a male. Who hath heard such a thing? Does the earth bring forth in one day, or is a nation also brought forth at once? For Sion was in travail and brought forth her sons.
The prophet here says two things:--
I. That Christ should be born before the destruction of Jerusalem. The Jews themselves collect and acknowledge this out of this prophecy: "It is in the Great Genesis [Bereshith Rabba] a very ancient book: thus R. Samuel Bar Nachaman said, Whence prove you, that in the day when the destruction of the Temple was, Messias was born? He answered, From this that is said in the last chapter of Isaiah, 'Before she travailed she brought forth; before her bringing forth shall come, she brought forth a male child.' In the same hour that the destruction of the Temple was, Israel cried out as though she were bringing forth. And Jonathan in the Chaldee translation said, Before her trouble came she was saved; and before the pains of childbirth came upon her, Messiah was revealed." In the Chaldee it is, A king shall manifest himself.
"In like manner in the same book: R. Samuel Bar Nachaman said, It happened that Elias went by the way in the day wherein the destruction of the Temple was, and he heard a certain voice crying out and saying, 'The holy Temple is destroyed.' Which when he heard, he imagined how he could destroy the world: but travelling forward he saw men ploughing and sowing, to whom he said, 'God is angry with the world and will destroy his house, and lead his children captives to the Gentiles; and do you labour for temporal victuals?' And another voice was heard, saying, 'Let them work, for the Saviour of Israel is born.' And Elias said, 'Where is he?' And the voice said, 'In Bethlehem of Judah,'" &c. These words this author speaks, and these words they speak.
II. As it is not without good reason gathered, that Christ shall be born before the destruction of the city, from that clause, "Before she travailed she brought forth, before her bringing forth came [the pangs of travail], she brought forth a male child"; so also, from that clause, Is a nation brought forth at once? for Sion travailed and brought forth her children, is gathered as well, that the Gentiles were to be gathered and called to the faith before that destruction; which our Saviour most plainly teacheth, verse 10, "But the gospel must first be preached among all nations." For how the Gentiles, which should believe, are called 'the children of Sion,' and 'the children of the church of Israel,' every where in the prophets, there is no need to show, for every one knows it.
In this sense is the word pangs or sorrows, in this place to be understood; and it agrees not only with the sense of the prophet alleged, but with a most common phrase and opinion in the nation concerning the sorrows of the Messiah, that is, concerning the calamities which they expected would happen at the coming of the Messiah.
"Ulla saith, The Messias shall come, but I shall not see him. So also saith Rabba, Messias shall come, but I shall not see him; that is, he shall not be to be seen. Abai saith to Rabba, Why? Because of the sorrows of the Messias. It is a tradition. His disciples asked R. Eliezer, What may a man do to be delivered from the sorrows of Messias? Let him be conversant in the law and in the works of mercy." The Gloss is, "the terrors and the sorrows which shall be in his days." "He that feasts thrice on the sabbath day shall be delivered from three miseries, from the sorrows of Messiah, from the judgment of hell, and from the war of Gog and Magog." Where the Gloss is this, "'From the sorrows of Messias': for in that age, wherein the Son of David shall come, there will be an accusation of the scholars of the wise men. The word sorrows denotes such pains as women in childbirth endure."
32. But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.
[But of that day and hour knoweth no man.] Of what day and hour? That the discourse is of the day of the destruction of Jerusalem is so evident, both by the disciples' question, and by the whole thread of Christ's discourse, that it is a wonder any should understand these words of the day and hour of the last judgment.
Two things are demanded of our Saviour, verse 4: the one is, "When shall these things be, that one stone shall not be left upon another?" And the second is, "What shall be the sign of this consummation?" To the latter he answereth throughout the whole chapter hitherto: to the former in the present words. He had said, indeed, in the verse before, "Heaven and earth shall pass away," &c.; not for resolution to the question propounded (for there was no inquiry at all concerning the dissolution of heaven and earth), but for confirmation of the truth of the thing which he had related. As though he had said, "Ye ask when such an overthrow of the Temple shall happen; when it shall be, and what shall be the signs of it. I answer, These and those, and the other signs shall go before it; and these my words of the thing itself to come to pass, and of the signs going before, are firmer than heaven and earth itself. But whereas ye inquire of the precise time, that is not to be inquired after; for of that day and hour knoweth no man."
We cannot but remember here, that even among the beholders of the destruction of the Temple there is a difference concerning the day of the destruction; that that day and hour was so little known before the event, that even after the event, they who saw the flames disagreed among themselves concerning the day. Josephus, an eyewitness, saw the burning of the Temple, and he ascribed it to the tenth day of the month Ab or Lous. For thus he; "The Temple perished the tenth day of the month Lous (or August), a day fatal to the Temple, as having been on that day consumed in flames by the king of Babylon." Rabban Jochanan Ben Zaccai saw the same conflagration; and he, together with the whole Jewish nation, ascribes it to the ninth day of that month, not the tenth; yet so that he saith, "If I had not lived in that age I had not judged it but to have happened on the tenth day." For as the Gloss upon Maimonides writes, "It was the evening when they set fire to it, and the Temple burnt until sunset the tenth day. In the Jerusalem Talmud, therefore, Rabbi and R. Joshua Ben Levi fasted the ninth and tenth days." See also the tract Bab. Taanith.
[Neither the angels.] "'For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come,' Isaiah 63:4. What means 'the day of vengeance is in mine heart?' R. Jochanan saith, I have revealed it to my heart, to my members I have not revealed it. R. Simeon Ben Lachish saith, I have revealed it to my heart, but to the ministering angels I have not revealed it." And Jalkut on that place thus: My heart reveals it not to my mouth; to whom should my mouth reveal it?
[Nor the Son.] Neither the angels, nor the Messias. For in that sense the word Son, is to be taken in this place and elsewhere very often: as in that passage, John 5:19, "The Son," that is, the Messias, "can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do": verse 20, "The Father loveth the Messias," &c: verse 26, "He hath given to the Messias to have life in himself," &c. And that the word Son is to be rendered in this sense, appears from verse 27; "He hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man." Observe that, "because he is the Son of man."
I. It is one thing to understand "the Son of God" barely and abstractly for the second person in the Holy Trinity; another to understand him for the Messias, or that second person incarnate. To say that the second person in the Trinity knows not something is blasphemous; to say so of the Messias, is not so, who, nevertheless, was the same with the second person in the Trinity: for although the second person, abstractly considered according to his mere Deity, was co-equal with the Father, co-omnipotent, co-omniscient, co-eternal with him, &c.; yet Messias, who was God-man, considered as Messias, was a servant and a messenger of the Father, and received commands and authority from the Father. And those expressions, "The Son can do nothing of himself," &c. will not in the least serve the Arian's turn; if you take them in this sense, which you must necessarily do; "Messias can do nothing of himself, because he is a servant and a deputy."
II. We must distinguish between the excellences and perfections of Christ, which flowed from the hypostatical union of the natures, and those which flowed from the donation and anointing of the Holy Spirit. From the hypostatical union of the natures flowed the infinite dignity of his person, his impeccability, his infinite self-sufficiency to perform the law, and to satisfy the divine justice. From the anointing of the Spirit flowed his power of miracles, his foreknowledge of things to come, and all kind of knowledge of evangelic mysteries. Those rendered him a fit and perfect Redeemer; these a fit and perfect Minister of the gospel.
Now, therefore, the foreknowledge of things to come, of which the discourse here is, is to be numbered among those things which flowed from the anointing of the Holy Spirit, and from immediate revelation; not from the hypostatic union of the natures. So that those things which were revealed by Christ to his church, he had them from the revelation of the Spirit, not from that union. Nor is it any derogation or detraction from the dignity of his person, that he saith, 'He knew not that day and hour of the destruction of Jerusalem'; yea, it excellently agrees with his office and deputation, who, being the Father's servant, messenger, and minister, followed the orders of the Father, and obeyed him in all things. "The Son knoweth not," that is, it is not revealed to him from the Father to reveal to the church. Revelation 1:1, "The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him."
We omit inquiring concerning the knowledge of Christ, being now raised from death: whether, and how far, it exceeded his knowledge, while yet he conversed on earth. It is without doubt, that, being now raised from the dead, he merited all kind of revelation (see Rev 5:9, "And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain," &c.); and that he, conversing on earth before his death, acted with the vigour of the Holy Spirit and of that unspeakable holiness which flowed from the union of the human nature with the divine, the divine nature, in the meantime, suspending its infinite activity of omnipotence. So that Christ might work miracles, and know things to come, in the same manner as the prophets also did, namely, by the Holy Ghost, but in a larger measure; and might overcome the devil not so much by the omnipotence of the divine nature, as by the infinite holiness of his person, and of his obedience. So that if you either look upon him as the minister and servant of God; or if you look upon the constitution, as I may so call it, and condition of his person, these words of his, "Of that day and hour knoweth not the Son also," carry nothing of incongruity along with them; yea, do excellently speak out his substitution as a servant, and the constitution of his person as God-man.
The reason why the divine wisdom would have the time of the destruction of Jerusalem so concealed, is well known to itself; but by men, since the time of it was unsearchable, the reason certainly is not easy to be searched. We may conjecture that the time was hid, partly, lest the godly might be terrified with the sound of it, as 2 Thessalonians 2:2; partly, that the ungodly, and those that would be secure, might be taken in the snares of their own security, as Matthew 24:38. But let secret things belong to God.
24. And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. [Until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.] "Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled": and what then? in what sense is this word until to be understood? Let every one have his conjecture, and let me be allowed mine. I am well assured our Saviour is discoursing about the fall and overthrow of Jerusalem; but I doubt, whether he touches upon the restoration of it: nor can I see any great reason to affirm, that the times of the Gentiles will be fulfilled before the end of the world itself. But as to this controversy, I shall not at present meddle with it. And yet, in the mean time, I cannot but wonder that the disciples, having so plainly heard these things from the mouth of their master, what concerned the destruction both of the place and nation, should be so quickly asking, "Lord, wilt thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" Nor do I less wonder to find the learned Beza expounding the very following verse after this manner: "Then shall there be the signs in the sun, &c.; that is, after those times are fulfilled, which were allotted for the salvation of the Gentiles, and vengeance upon the Jews, concerning which St. Paul discourses copiously." Romans 11:25, &c: when, indeed, nothing could be said clearer for the confutation of that exposition, than that of verse 32; "Verily, I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away till all be fulfilled." It is strange this should be no more observed, as it ought to have been, by himself and divers others, when, in truth, these very words are as a gnomon to the whole chapter. All the other passages of the chapter fall in with Matthew 24 and Mark 13, where we have placed those notes that were proper; and shall repeat nothing here. Which method I have taken in several places in this evangelist, where he relates passages that have been related before, and which I have had occasion to handle as I met with them. " (in loc.)
v. 22,23 "That the destruction of Jerusalem is very frequently expressed in Scripture as if it were the destruction of the whole world, Deut. 32:22; "A fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell, and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains.' Jer. 4:23; 'I beheld the earth, and lo, it was without form, and void; and the heavens, and they had no light,' &c. The discourse there also is concerning the destruction of that nation, Isa. 65:17; 'Behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered,' &c. And more passages of this sort among the prophets. According to this sens, Christ speaks in this place; and Peter speaks in his Second Epistle, third chapter; and John, in the sixth of the Revelation; and Paul, 2 Cor. 5:17, &c. (vol. 2, pp. 18-19)
"With the same reference it is, that the times and state of things immediately following the destruction of Jerusalem are called 'a new creation,' new heavens,' and 'a new earth.' When should that be? Read the whole chapter; and you will find the Jews rejected and cut off; and from that time is that new creation of the evangelical world among the Gentiles.
Compare 2 Cor. 5:17 and Rev. 21:1,2; where, the old Jerusalem being cut off and destroyed, a new one succeeds; and new heavens and a new earth are created.
2 Peter 3:13: 'We, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth.' The heaven and the earth of the Jewish church and commonwealth must be all on fire, and the Mosaic elements burnt up; but we, according to the promise made to us by Isaiah the prophet, when all these are consumed, look for the new creation of the evangelical state" (vol. 3, p.453)
"That the destruction of Jerusalem and the whole Jewish state is described as if the whole frame of the world were to be dissolved. Nor is it strange, when God destroyed his habitation and city, places once so dear to him, with so direful and sad an overthrow; his own people, whom he accounted of as much or more than the whole world beside, by so dreadful and amazing plagues. Matt. 24:29,30, 'The sun shall be darkened &c. Then shall appear the 'sign of the Son of man,' &c; which yet are said to fall out within that generation, ver. 34. 2 Pet. 3:10, 'The heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat,' &c. Compare with this Deut. 32:22, Heb. 12:26: and observe that by elements are understood the Mosaic elements, Gal 4:9, Coloss. 2:20: and you will not doubt that St. Peter speaks only of the conflagration of Jerusalem, the destruction of the nation, and the abolishing the dispensation of Moses" (vol. 3, p. 452).
I Corinthians 7:29)
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Date: 17 Feb 2008
Date: 27 Nov 2012
Date: 25 May 2013
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