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Zachary Pearce Study Archive

Matt. 25:1 – This shows that Jesus, in this chapter, is speaking on the same subject as in the foregoing one, viz., what was to happen at the destruction of the Jewish state.



Bishop Zachary Pearce

He was Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge (1716–1720) and chaplain to the Lord Chancellor, Thomas Parker, 1st Earl of Macclesfield. He became rector of Stapleford Abbots, Essex (1719–1722) and St Batholemew, Royal Exchange (1720–1724) He was vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields, London, in 1726. He was then Dean of Winchester in 1739, Bishop of Bangor in 1748, and Bishop of Rochester in 1756. In 1761 he turned down the position of bishop of London. He was Dean of Westminster (1756–1768).

Dividing Line Between Destruction of Jerusalem and General Judgment – Matthew 25:41

(On Matthew 3:7)
“The wrath to come; i. e. the punishment to come in the destruction of the Jewish state.” (Com. in loc.)

(On Matthew 3:12)
“In this whole verse, the destruction of the Jewish state is expressed in the terms of husbandmen ; and by the wheat’s being gathered into the garner, seems meant that the believers in Jesus should
not be involved in the calamity.” (Com. in loc.)

(On Matthew 10:15)
That is, in the day of the destruction of the Jewish state, called the coming of the Son of Man, ver. 23. The sense of this verse seems to be this: That which formerly befell Sodom and Gomorrah, was more tolerable than what shall befall this city. That the day of judgment here mentioned is to be thus understood, appears from what is said concerning Capernaum in ch. xi. 23, compared with vs. 22 — 24, of the same chapter.” (Com. in loc.)

(On Matthew 10:23)
“I say unto you; ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel till the Son of Man be come, i. e. the gospel would not be particularly and fully preached to the cities of Israel, before the ruin of the Jewish state, and his taking vengeance on it”

(On Matthew 11:22)
“See note on chap. 15. Brought down to hell: i. e. to the grave ; it means, thou shalt be quite ruined and destroyed. So it was in the wars of the  Jews with the Romans, and there are now no footsteps remaining pf it, nor of Bethsaida or Chorazin.” (Com. in loc.)

(On Matthew 12:31)
“Neither in this world, &c. Rather, neither in this age, nor in the age to come : i. e., neither in this age when the law of Moses subsists, nor in that also, when the kingdom of heaven, which is at hand, shall succeed to it. This is a strong way of expressing how difficult a thing it was for such a sinner to obtain pardon.’ ‘

The Greek word aion, seems to signify age here, as it often does in the New Testament, (see chap. xiii. 40 ; xxiv. 3 ; Col. i. 26 ; Eph. iii. 5, 21,) and according to its most proper signification. If this be so, then this age means the Jewish one, the age while their law subsisted, and was in force ; and the age to come, (see Heb. vi. 5 ; Eph. ii. 7,) means that under the Christian dispensation. Under the Jewish law, there was no forgiveness for wilful and presumptuous sins : concerning them it is said, Num. xv. 30, 31, The soul which doeth aught presumptuously, the same reproacheth the Lord; and that soul shall be cut off from among his people, because he hath despised the word of the Lord, and hath broken his commandments. See to the same purpose, Num. xxxv. 31 ; Lev. xx. 10 ; 1 Sam. ii. 25. With regard to the seculum fuiurum, the age to come, or the Christian dispensation, no forgiveness could be expected for such as these Pharisees were ; because, when they blasphemed the Holy Spirit of God, by which Jesus wrought his miracles, they rejected the only means of forgiveness, which was the merit of his death, applied to men by faith, and which, under Christianity, was the only sacrifice that could atone for such a sin : in this sense, (as things then stood with them,) their sin was an unpardonable one. But then it is not to be concluded from hence, that, if they repented of this blasphemy, they could not obtain forgiveness. The observation of Athanasius, vol. i. p.237, Ed. Col. is very material. He says, ” Christ does not say to him that blasphemeth and repenteth; but to him that blasphemeth;” and therefore he means, to him that cpntinueth in his blasphemy ; for with God there is no sin that is unpardonable. ‘

And the truth of this observation will appear from the following instances : Jesus said, in Matt. x. 33, Whoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father, where the threatening is as strong as this in the case of blasphemy against the Holy Ghost; and yet when Peter shortly afterwards denied Jesus before men three times, joining oaths and curses with his denials, yet, upon his repenting and weeping bitterly, he was not only forgiven, but continued in his apostleship. Again, when Jesus was on the cross, some of the rulers derided him, saying, he saved others, let him save himself, if he be the Christ, the chosen of God, Luke xxiii. 35. By which words, it appears that they acknowledged Jesus to have wrought miracles, and yet rejected him, denying that he wrought them by the holy spirit of God; and yet Jesus prayed to his Father that they might be forgiven, Luke xxiii. 34. To this may be added, that in this chapter, vs. 38—41, those Pharisees who had blasphemed against the Holy Ghost asked for a sign, and our Saviour gave one to them, viz., the sign of the prophet Jonas; and what could this sign be given for, unless for their conviction, and for disposing them to repent, and in consequence of this to be forgiven ? From all which, it may (I think) be concluded, that to speak against the Holy Ghost (as those Pharisees did,) was therefore not to be forgiven in that age, or in the age to come, because no means of obtaining forgiveness for it was to be found, either in the Jewish law, or under the Christian dispensation; but that however, upon their repentance, they might be forgiven, and admitted to the Divine favor.’ (Com. and note in loc.)

(On Matthew 13:40)
“Ver. 40. ‘End of this world: Rather end of this age, viz. that of the Jewish dispensation.’ Ver. 41. ‘ Shall send forth his angels: This is spoken, not of what shall happen at the end of the world, but of what was to happen at the end or destruction of the Jewish state.’ ‘

I have explained this and the foregoing verse, as relating, not to the end of the world, but to that of the Jewish state, which was to be destroyed within forty years after Jesus’ death; for the same manner of expression is made use of, where it is more certain, that not the time of the general judgment, but that of the visitation of the Jews is meant; viz. in chap. xvi. 27, 28. This last verse, accomplished in one of the apostles at least, (I mean John,) plainly shows that all the phrases used in the first verse were designed to express only the destruction which was to befall the Jewish state ; at which time the Christians, who endured to the end, were to be saved, chap. x. 22, and xxiv. 13. These are called the elect in chap. xxiv. 22, 24. And ecclesiastical history informs us, that, by a Divine admonition, the faithful Christians retired from Judea, before the ruin of it by the Romans, and were preserved. See chap. iii. 12, and Luke xxi. 18, 36, and especially note on Matt. xxiv. 13.” (Com. and note in loc. )

(On Matthew 13:49)
Ver. 49, ‘ End of the world: rather age. See Com. on ver. 40, and note on ver. 41.’ Com. in loc.

(On Matthew 16:25)
Ver. 25. ‘ Rather is willing (or desirous) to save his life. Luke, xvii. 33, says, shall seek to save his life. This is meant of the time of the destruction of the Jewish state. See vs. 27, 28.’ Ver. 26. ‘Rather lose his life, as in ver. 25, and in chap. ii. 20, and x. 39. Agreeably to this, Luke says, lose himself, chap. ix. 25.” (Com. in loc. )

Rather lose his life, as in ver. 35. See Com. on Matt. xvi. 26.’-—Com. in Mark viii. 35, .37. On ver. 35, to which he refers, Bishop Pearce says ‘ That this was meant of what ‘was to come to pass in the destruction of the Jewish state, see ver. 38, of this chapter, together with chap. ix. 1.”

(On Matthew 16:27-28)
“This is meant of his coming to visit and punish the Jews, as in ver. 25. See chap. xxiv. 30, and xxvi. 64; Dan. vii. 13 ; and Rev. i. 7.’— ‘John the apostle, (we know for certain,) lived long enough to see this coming of Jesus in his kingdom. See John xxi. 22, 23.” (Com. in loc.)

(On Matthew 23:39)
“How often would I have gathered, &c., i. e., how often have I attempted to make thy children my disciples. Your house is left; i. e., will be left, when your city, temple, and state shall be destroyed. Till ye shall say; i. e., till I come to destroy your city, &c., and then ye will say.” (Com. in loc.)

(On Matthew 24:12)
“Shall endure; I. e., continue true believers in me, called the elect, in vs. 23, 2-i. Shall be saved; i. e. from this calamity. See ver. 22, and chap. iii. 12, and x. 22, and Acts ii. 21.’ ‘

Josephus, Bell. Jud. iv. 8, 2, says, that when Vespasian was drawing his forces towards Jerusalem, to besiege it, a great multitude of those who were at Jericho withdrew themselves from thence into the mountainous country; and in Bell. Jud. ii. 19, 6, and 20, 1, he tells us, that many fled out of Jerusalem, before the siege began. But Eusebius, in his Hist. Eccles. iii. 5, goes further, and informs us that the Christians of Jerusalem, being warned by a revelation concerning the approaching war, departed from the city, and went to dwell in a town named Pella, on the other side of Jordan.” (Com. and Note in loc.)

(On Matthew 24:29)
“Distress of nations, refers to such nations as inhabited the several countries called by the name of Judea in its widest extent, including Jews, Galileans, Samaritans, &c” (in loc.)

(On Matthew 24:40)
“This and the next verse mean, that in the day of Christ’s coming to punish the Jews, a distinction will be made in favor of Christians. See vs. 13, 22, 31, and chap. iii. 12, and xiii. 30.’ Com. in loc.)

(On Matthew 24:42)
“All which follows, to the end of the chapter, contains a warning to the disciples, and to all other believers of those days, that they should be found sincere ones ; otherwise they would be punished in the time of the Jewish destruction.” (Com. in Matt. xxiv. 42. )

(On Matthew 25:1)
“Then, i. e., at that time, and under those circumstances. This shows that Jesus, in this chapter, is speaking on the same subject as in the foregoing one, viz., what was to happen at the destruction of the Jewish state. See Com. on ver. 13.’ Ver. 13. ‘ Rather, wherein the Son of man is to come. This plainly shows that what was said before in this chapter relates to the destruction of the Jewish state, expressed by the Son of man’s coming, as in chap. xvi. 27, 28.” (Com. in loc. )

(On Matthew 25:14)
The moral of this parable is, that Jesus would reward or punish Christians according to their behavior under the means of grace afforded to them: and that from every one would be required in proportion to what had been given to him. And this distinction, made between them, was to be made at the time when the Jewish state was to be destroyed.” (Com. in loc. )

(On Matthew 25:31)
“Ver. 31, ‘Shall come in his glory ; i. e., to destroy the Jewish state. Sec chap. xvi. 27, 28, and xxiv. 30, and xxvi. 64. Jesus is still giving an account of what distinction will then be made between good and bad Christians.”

“Ver. 34. ‘ Then shall fhe king; the Son of man, then in his kingdom, chap. xvi. 28. ‘ Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom; i. e., enjoy all the privileges and benefits of the gospel, which God ordained from the beginning of the world, that it should take place in the proper season, see 1 Peter i. 20, and Rev. xiii. 8.” (Com. in loc.)

(On Matthew 25:46)
“Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. Being now delivered from your persecutors, ye shall receive the recompense of the kind reception you have given to the propagators of my doctrine, and shall enjoy, without disturbance, in security and comfort, all the blessings of the gospel kingdom, which, as it appears from the prophecies of the ancient dispensation, were, from the foundation of the world, destined for such characters as yours.” (Crit. Hem. i. Ill)

(On Mark 8:35)
“Of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he comes so illustriously to punish his crucifiers, (or, at the last, judge the world,) see note on Matt. xvi. 28, which is not now so far off, but that some here present shall live to see it.” (Par. in Luke ix. 26, 27.)

(On Mark 12:40)
“Rather judgment, or punishment; by which is meant, that they should suffer more severely than other Jews, when the Jewish state should be destroyed.” (Com. in Mark xii. 40.)

(On Luke 3:9)
“Vengeance is about to be taken upon the Jewish nation, (ver. 17, and Matt. iii. 10.) (Com. in Luke iii. 9.)

(On Luke 13:3)
“Except ye, the nation of the Jews, repent, your state shall be destroyed.” (Com. in loc. )

(On Luke 19:12)
“In the following parable there are two distinct morals, intended by it in these two points of light, the behavior of the citizens to the nobleman, and the behavior of his own servants to him : by the behavior of the citizens, and their punishment, (vs. 14, 27,) we are taught, that the Jews, who were the people of Jesus, would reject him, and try to prevent him from reigning over them, in his spiritual kingdom, and would for that crime be severely punished by the destruction of their state. And this moral is all which here answers to the introductory words, (ver. 11,) because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear. But then there is another moral in this parable, which extends itself through the whole of it, viz., that, among the disciples of Jesus, who are his servants, such as made a good use of the favors vouchsafed to them by the gospel, should be distinguished and rewarded for it in proportion to the improvement which they made under the means of grace. This latter moral is all that is intended in the parable, as set forth by Matt. ch. xxv. 14, &c., who mentions it as spoken by Jesus, after his triumphant entry into Jerusalem, though Luke has here placed that event after the parables.” (Com. in Luke xix. 12.)

(On I Corinthians 10:11)
“St. Paul did not imagine, that the end of the world was at hand (as some commentators have, much to his prejudice, supposed): He only alluded to the Jewish distinction of time.”

(On Hebrews 9:26) “which phrase of the ‘end of the world; relates, not to the end of the world, strictly speaking, but to the preceding ages, being ended.”

N.A. Nisbett (1787)
“But though the time was hastening on for the completion of our Lord’s prophecy of the ruin of the Jews; yet the exact time of this judgment, laid hid in the bosom of the Father. Verse 36. ‘Of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.’ St. Mark has it: ‘Neither the Son, but the Father;’ but the sense is the same. Some men of great learning and eminence have thought that our Lord is here speaking, not of the destruction of Jerusalem, but of that more solemn and awful one of the day of judgment. But I can by no means think that the Evangelists are such loose, inaccurate writers, as to make so sudden and abrupt a transition, as they are here supposed to do; much less to break through the fundamental rules of good writing, by apparently referring to something which they had said before; when in reality they were beginning a new subject, and the absurdity of the supposition will appear more strongly, if it is recollected that the question of the disciples was, ‘When shall these things be?’ ‘Why,’ says our Saviour, ‘of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only’” (pp. 38-39)

“Bishop Peace questions the authenticity of the last clause of this and the parallel verse in St. Mark, and quotes Ambrose, as saying they were not found in ancient Greek manuscripts of his day; and it is remarkable that St. Luke omits the whole of this verse;I but I do not know that any thing can be gathered from that, as each of the Evangelists have taken notice of some particular which has not been recorded by others. It may however be questioned, whether the sense of this passage is not to be found elsewhere? Acts 17. “It is not for you to know the times and the seasons which the Father hath put in his own power.” (An Attempt to Illustrate..)

“The improbability of the Evangelists having the day of judgment in view in this passage, will be still more evident, if we attend to what immediately follows in the 37th verse. “But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be;” which the reader will observe, is the very expression just before used, concerning the destruction of Jerusalem, and is the common language of the gospels relative to that event. This sudden appearance of Christ, the Evangelist farther illustrates in the 40th and 41st verses. –!’Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.”

“The providence of God over my disciples, and the effect of their attention to my forewarnings, will then be remarkable: a distinction will take place between those whose external circumstances are alike. My disciples will be preserved, and others will perish. See Bishop Newcome’s Observations on our Lord’s conduct as a Divine Instructor.” (ibid.)