The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

Father Maas’ Commentary on Matthew 11:25-27

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 13, 2013

Mat 11:25  At that time Jesus answered and said: I confess to thee, O Father, Lord of Heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them to little ones.
Mat 11:26  Yea, Father: for so hath it seemed good in thy sight.

At that time Jesus answered. 4. The citizens of the kingdom. In this section Jesus first describes the character of the citizens of the kingdom, and then their happiness even in this life. α. Character of the citizens. According to the third gospel [10:21 ff.], Jesus pronounced the following words after the return of the seventy disciples, surely a most suitable occasion for the discourse; but since it also fits most aptly into the present context of the first gospel, we may suppose either that our Lord uttered these words repeatedly, or that the seventy had returned before they were spoken, even according to the first gospel [cf. Schanz, who thinks that Mt. 12:1 supposes the return of the seventy]. The clause “Jesus answered” has been understood as implying a question arising out of the previous discourse [St Bruno, Alb. Thomas Aquinas], or manifesting the inner disposition of the hearers of our Lord [Paschasius], or again as indicating that our Lord took occasion to utter the following discourse from the circumstances in which he found himself [Jansenius, Lam. Schanz, Opus Imperfectum, Cajetan, Knabenbauer]. The whole discourse is more like our Lord’s words recorded in the fourth gospel [cf. Jn. 8:19; 10:15; 14:9; 16:5] than his speeches contained in the synoptic writings; but this shows that the writers of the first three gospels were acquainted with our Lord’s manner as depicted in the fourth gospel. “I confess” means either “I give thanks” [Chrysostom, Theophylact, Euthymius, Jerome, Bede, Paschasius, Alb. Thomas Aquinas, Faber Stapulensis, Dionysius,], or “I praise” [Augustine serm. 67; Sylveira, Arnoldi, Schegg, Schanz, Fillion], like the Hebrew הוֹדָה לְ or הִלֵּל, or again both meanings may be included [Toletanus, Jansenius, Lapide]. The address “Father, Lord of heaven and earth” is in perfect keeping with the sentiments of praise and gratitude; moreover, it shows that the resistance of the unbelieving cities was not owing to the weakness of Jesus Christ [Lapide, Sylveira], and that the dispensation of grace, implied in the foregoing passage, involves no injustice [Toletanus, Jansenius]. God’s “hiding” of the truth implies and presupposes the unwillingness of the creature to receive the same. The “wise and prudent” are, in general, those imbued with that worldly wisdom which is foolishness before God [1 Cor. 3:19], and which St. Paul so well describes [Rom. 2:17 ff.]; in particular, the Jews are designated by this term [Theodoret of Cyrus heracl. in cat.], or more Particularly still, the scribes and Pharisees [Chrysostom, Euthymius, Jerome, Opus Imperfectum, Bede, Dionynius, Jansenius, Maldonado, Lapide]. “The little ones” are the simple and sincere [Chrysostom, Euthymius], who are free from all malice [Hilary], humble, and open to conviction [Ambrose, Augustine, Rabanus, Alb. Dionysius, Jansenius], but not the rude and ignorant as such [Keim]. These little ones are recommended also in Ps. 18:20; Prov. 8:5; 9:4; Is. 55:1; Mt. 18:3. The object of the revelation is the knowledge of the Messiasship of Jesus, of his sonship of God [cf. Mt. 11:27; 16:17; Jn. 1:49; 11:27], and, moreover, of his sovereign mediatorship [Mt. 11:6, 13]. The manner of this revelation is more fully described in vv. 27–30, just as the manner of God’s concealing these truths from the wise and prudent may be gathered from Jn. 5:36 f; 3:19; Rom. 1:28; 10:3. The object, or the immediate motive, of the praise and thanksgiving may be either God’s revealing these truths to the little ones, though he conceals them from the wise and prudent [Chrysostom, Calmet; cf. Is. 12:1; Mt. 23:25], or it may be both the concealment of these truths from the wise and prudent and their revelation to the little ones; in other words, it may be both God’s justice and mercy [Thomas Aquinas, Faber Stapulensis, Dionysius, Jansenius, Sylveira, Toletanus in Lc. 10. annot. 35, Arnoldi, Bisping, Schegg, Reischl, Fillion, Knabenbauer]. The words “Yea, Father,” repeat what has been said before, so that Jesus shows here the greatest earnestness in his praise and thanksgiving. The reason of this repeated praise, “for so hath it seemed good in thy sight,” may be understood either subjectively, i. e. for so hast thou willed it [Chrysostom, Euthymius, Theophylact, Arnoldi, Bisping, Fillion], or objectively, i. e. for such is the outward condition of circumstances showing thy divine will [Schegg, Schanz, Knabenbauer, etc.]. This explanation is possible because the Hebrew word רָצוֹן has both the subjective [Ps. 5:13; Prov. 16:15; 19:20] and the objective meaning [Ps. 18:15; Is. 56:7; Jer. 6:20; Ex. 28:38; Lev. 1:3; 22:20; etc.]; it is very probable, because the evangelist adds “in thy sight” to “so it hath seemed good.”

Mat 11:27  All things are delivered to me by my Father. And no one knoweth the Son but the Father: neither doth any one know the Father, but the Son, and he to whom it shall please the Son to reveal him.

All things are delivered to me. These words are not added in order to prevent the impression that our Lord had given praise and thanks to the Father for the Father’s performing what Jesus could not have done [cf. Chrysostom, Euthymius, Theophylact, Cyril, Hilary, Paschasius, Jansenius, Lapide, Calmet], but they rather contain the revelation that has been vouchsafed to the little ones [cf. Maldonado, Sylveira, Schanz, Knabenbauer]. “All things” must not be limited to what is necessary in order to perform the Messianic mission well [cf. Jerome, Maldonado, Toletanus]; but the perfect mutual knowledge of Father and Son as well as the solemnity of the occasion requires that it should be understood without any restriction [Ambrose, Euthymius, Jansenius, Lapide, Schanz, Knabenbauer]. This acceptation of the word is also suggested by many parallel passages: Mt. 28:18; Jn. 3:35; 13:3; 17:2; Heb. 2:8; 1 Cor. 15:24; etc. The “knoweth” in the phrase “and no one knoweth” renders a Greek verb meaning “to know accurately and adequately.” Since only Jesus can know the Father adequately, and since the Father alone can know our Lord adequately, it follows that the Son [our Lord] is equal to the Father, and by a further inference that the Son is of the same substance as the Father [cf. Chrysostom, Theophylact, Euthymius, Hilary, Jerome, Paschasius, Thomas Aquinas, Knabenbauer etc.].

On the other hand, we need not ask why the Holy Ghost has been omitted, since there is no question of the relation of the third person to either the first or the second [cf. Euthymius, Thomas Aquinas, Schanz]. Cf. Jn. 6:46; 7:28; 8:19; 10:15. The clauses “but the Father,” “but the Son,” exclude, therefore, all of a different nature, but not the Holy Ghost, who is of the same nature with the Father and the Son [cf. 1 Cor. 2:10 ff.]. Another argument for the equality of Father and Son may be drawn from the following clause, according to which the Son reveals the Father “to whom it shall please the Son,” not depending on the sovereign will of the Father; while, therefore, in other passages our Lord speaks according to his human nature [Mt. 20:23; Jn. 17:9; etc.], he here speaks according to the divine. And as in the divine nature there is only one will, we see how the revelation of the saving truth can be attributed to the Father in verse 25, and to the Son in verse 27.


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