Matthew 11:13-14 – Matthew Henry & a verse in Daniel

Still contemplating Matthew 11:13-14.

Matthew 11:13-14 (ESV)

13 For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John,

14 and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come.

Here is some more food for thought.

The ministry of John was the beginning of the gospel, as it is reckoned, Mk. 1:1; Acts 1:22. This is shown here in two things:[1.] In John the Old Testament dispensation began to die, v. 13. So long that ministration continued in full force and virtue, but then it began to decline. Though the obligation of the law of Moses was not removed till Christ’s death, yet the discoveries of the Old Testament began to be superseded by the more clear manifestation of the kingdom of heaven as at hand. Because the light of the gospel (as that of nature) was to precede and make way for its law, therefore the prophecies of the Old Testament came to an end (finis perficiens, not interficiens—an end of completion, not of duration ), before the precepts of it; so that when Christ says, all the prophets and the law prophesied until John, he shows us, First, How the light of the Old Testament was set up; it was set up in the law and the prophets, who spoke, though darkly, of Christ and his kingdom. Observe, The law is said to prophesy, as well as the prophets, concerning him that was to come. Christ began at Moses (Lu. 24:27); Christ was foretold by the dumb signs of the Mosaic work, as well as by the more articulate voices of the prophets, and was exhibited, not only in the verbal predictions, but in the personal and real types. Blessed be God that we have both the New-Testament doctrine to explain the Old-Testament prophecies, and the Old-Testament prophecies to confirm and illustrate the New-Testament doctrine (Heb. 1:1); like the two cherubim, they look at each other. The law was given by Moses long ago, and there had been no prophets for three hundred years before John, and yet they are both said to prophecy until John, because the law was still observed, and Moses and the prophets still read. Note, The scripture is teaching to this day, though the penmen of it are gone. Moses and the prophets are dead; the apostles and evangelists are dead (Zec. 1:5), but the word of the Lord endures for ever (1 Pt. 1:25); the scripture is speaking expressly, though the writers are silent in the dust. Secondly, How this light was laid aside: when he says, they prophesied until John, he intimates, that their glory was eclipsed by the glory which excelled; their predictions superseded by John’s testimony, Behold the Lamb of God! Even before the sun rises, the morning light makes candles to shine dim. Their prophecies of a Christ to come became out of date, when John said, He is come. [2.] In him the New-Testament day began to dawn; for (v. 14) This is Elias, that was for to come. John was as the loop that coupled the two Testaments; as Noah was Fibula utriusque mundi—the link connecting both worlds, so was he utriusque Testamenti—the link connecting both Testaments. The concluding prophecy of the Old Testament was, Behold, I will send you Elijah, Mal. 4:5, 6. Those words prophesied until John, and then, being turned into a history, they ceased to prophecy.


Matthew Henry’s Complete Commentary: Matthew 11

Does this verse also apply to the verse in Matthew 11:13?

Daniel 9:24  (ESV) “Seventy weeks are decreed about your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place.


MacArthur on Matthew 11:13

I still haven’t gotten far in trying to understand Matthew 11:13 and the phrase “until John“.

Matthew 11:13-14 (ESV)

13 For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John,
and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come.

Here is a comment John MacArthur made about the verse in a sermon on John the Baptist – True Greatness.

Then verse 13, John is the culmination of everything, “For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.” He is the culmination. Everything from Genesis to John is moving along to the moment that he pointed to Christ. And it was all one message from Genesis to John was one message – The Messiah’s coming, the Messiah’s coming, the Messiah is coming. And he was the culmination. He was it.

What a commendation. He is the focus … everything is swirling around him. The kingdom is moving violently through the godless, human system. And eager, vigorous people are pressing into it. Why? Because this is the climax, everything has built up to John.


Prophets and the Law … until John

Matthew 11:13-14 (ESV)
13  For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John,
14 and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come.

Luke 16:16 (ESV)  “The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and everyone forces his way into it.

Why do the majority of translations say “until John“? (The Message did not use “until John” but then it isn’t a translation and worthless for Bible Study in my opinion.)

Until, to me, implies something that proceeds and then stops at certain point.

NT:2193  Until –

(A)  Until, used as a prep. meaning unto, as long as, marking the continuance of an action up to the time of another action …

(B) By implication, meaning as long as, while, during the continuance of another action until it ends …

The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament © 1992 by AMG International, Inc. Revised Edition, 1993

So what does “until John” mean?


Least In The Kingdom

While looking at Matthew 11:11, I decided to see where else the phrase “least in the Kingdom” was used.  We saw previously it’s use in Matthew 5:19.

Matthew 5:19 (ESV) Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Then again in Matthew 11:11.

Matthew 11:11 (ESV) Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

And in Luke 7:28.

Luke 7:28 (ESV) I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.”

Obviously the Kingdom of Heaven and the Kingdom of God are the same.  But the big question is, is the Kingdom now?  Later? or both.

I like Martyn Lloyd Jones‘ explanation about the Kingdom:

It has come; it is coming; it is to come. It was here when He was exercising authority; it is here in us now; and yet it is to come.

So why was the least in the Kingdom greater than John the Baptist?

My best understanding is that while John the Baptist was the forerunner and proclaimed Christ to the Jewish Nation, he did not live to see the completion of Christ’s work.  John the Baptist may not have even understood the full manner in which Christ was to fulfill the prophecy, just like the disciples didn’t until after the resurrection.  Yet, the disciples of Jesus and maybe even some of John the Baptist’s disciples were able to see the death burial and resurrection of the Lord.  Not until then did they really understand. (Ma shared the following verse which I had forgotten.)

Luke 18:31-34 (ESV)

31 And taking the twelve, he said to them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished.
For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon.
And after flogging him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise.”
But they understood none of these things. This saying was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said.

We have a better knowledge, a clearer hope and a Messiah who said “It is Finished.”  We get to live in the completed portion.  John the Baptist began the foundation, but he didn’t live to see the completion of Christ’s work.

We can proclaim the full and complete Gospel to everyone of every race and nationality.  John the Baptist was just giving the advance notice; we have the full Good News.  Even the youngest, weakest believer has what John the Baptist was looking forward to.

John the Baptist proclaimed “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 3:2)  It was at hand for him.

We can proclaim the Kingdom (Acts 28:31) in boldness because it cannot be shaken (Hebrews 12:28) and testify (Acts 28:23) that it is here.

Just think of what we have revealed to us in the NT, which John the Baptist didn’t have.


Matthew 11:11 to Ponder

This is a passage that has always caused me to paused and think “What does this mean?”

Matthew 11:11 (ESV) Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

This seems so odd.

Do you know what this is speaking of?

I have my thoughts, but commentaries differ.


Whoever Loves God Must Also Love His Brother

While pondering Matthew 10:42 and “Because He is a Disciple“, I was wondering why does the Lord specifically say in many, many verses that our behavior towards disciples or the brethren should be in a certain way.  Honestly, while listing out verses from just the New Testament there seems to be more verses that deal with our behavior with the brethren or our brothers and sisters in the church than with any other type of individual, even our spouses or our children.  Isn’t that surprising and interesting?

But why?  Is that truly the harder relationship for believers?  Dealing with others in the church?

I won’t go through the explanation as to why when the words brother, sister or brethren is used it is referring to fellow believers.  I trust most understand that.  (My grandfather always called me “sister” which was quite confusing as a child because I wasn’t his sister.)

This is my best understanding of why so many verses about how we treat fellow believers:

1 John 4:20-21 (ESV)

20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.
21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

That is about as plain as it can get!

If we do not love our brothers in Christ then we do not love God!

How well do you love God?


Because He Is A Disciple

Matthew 10:42 (ESV) And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.”

The portion of this verse that caught my attention a few years ago was “because he is a disciple.” I thought that was so odd because I’d always heard others teaching as if this verse was talking about giving a cup of cold water to anyone. I’ve also been in churches where they had ministries called “Cup of Cold Water” which gave out water bottles at large sporting events.

Now don’t misunderstand me here there are plenty of other verses that talk of helping the widows and the orphans or the poor.  But this verse specifically says “disciples“.  That is just one odd verse, right?  Nope.  Look at these verses:

Matthew 25:35-40 (ESV)

35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,

36  I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’

37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?

38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?

39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

Mark 9:41 (ESV) For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ will by no means lose his reward.

Hebrews 6:10 (ESV) For God is not so unjust as to overlook your work and the love that you showed for his sake in serving the saints, as you still do.

2 Corinthians 8:3-5 (ESV)

3 For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own free will,

4 begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints

5 and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us.

2 Corinthians 9:12 (ESV) For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God.

1 John 3:17 (ESV) But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?

We are to specifically be serving and supplying the needs of our brothers (and sisters) in the Lord.

  • Will not lose our reward

  • Shows love to Christ

  • Will not be overlooked by the Lord

  • Shows we have given ourselves to the Lord

  • Shows thanksgiving to God

  • If we do not, God’s love does not abide in us

We aren’t able to do this well unless we are part of a community of believers. Unless you are seriously fellowshipping and living out your life with other believers often their needs will go unnoticed.

Often it is easier to give some money to a ministry that will feed the hungry or help the poor than it is to actually be involved in ministry yourself.  We believers tend to prefer the sanitized methods of helping others more to the real handing out cold water to a fellow believer.  When it comes to helping those we know in the church often there are many excuses.

Judgement about how they arrived in their dire circumstances….

How you would do things differently ….

If only they would have listened….

That doesn’t mean we are to let believers sponge off others, that isn’t the point.

2 Thessalonians 3:10-12 (ESV)
10 For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.
11 For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies.
12 Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.

So how might this understanding change your ministry to others, especially the brothers and sisters in the Lord?


A Cup of Cold Water

Matthew 10:42 (ESV) And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.”

A year or so ago when reading this verse I realized something very interesting.  This means slightly different than what I’ve always been taught and that most people assume.  This is especially obvious when you compare the verse in other locations.

Do you see what caught my attention?


Weak and Useless Garments

If you have boys you have probably found that they have a bad habit of developing holes in the knees of their pants.  I don’t know why but for some reason between the ages of 5 and 12 my boys have succeeded in wearing out the knees of most of their pants.  I have bought three times as many pants at that age than any other item of clothing.  I initially tried patching them but that never worked and they looked horrible.

Their pants were weak and worn from use just like in the verses discussing old garments (Matthew 9:16, Mark 2:21, Luke 5:36).  Old garments are typically well used.  They have served their purpose.  There comes a time for them to be put away.

There are several verses that refer to the Law as weak or useless.

Romans 8:3-4 (ESV)

3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh,
4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Hebrews 7:18-19 (ESV)

18 For on the one hand, a former commandment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness
19 (for the law made nothing perfect)
; but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God.

Now we know the Law didn’t start out weak and useless but the Law had served its purpose.  The Law worked its purpose but now there is a better law, a newer garment.  The new garment is imperishable just like the garments of the Israelites in the desert.

Nehemiah 9:21 (ESV) Forty years you sustained them in the wilderness, and they lacked nothing. Their clothes did not wear out and their feet did not swell.


Tearing the New to Fix the Old?

Surely we wouldn’t tear a new garment in order to fix an old garment?

Or do we?

John MacArthur has said that garments in the Bible often refer to a person’s character.

Psalms 73:6 (ESV) Therefore pride is their necklace; violence covers them as a garment.

From the verses I’ve read over the last few days about garments or robes I think I would have to say they refer to a person’s standing before God, their spiritual character.  These verses explain that better.

Isaiah 64:6 (ESV) We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.

Revelation 7:14 (ESV) I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

We are unable to make our garments (our character or standing with God) pure and white.  Only the Lord can give us new garments.

Zechariah 3:3-5 (ESV)

3 Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments.
4 And the angel said to those who were standing before him, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” And to him he said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.”
5 And I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the Lord was standing by.

Now look at the passage in Luke, which is slightly different from the Matthew and Mark accounts.

Luke 5:33-39 (ESV)

33 And they said to him, “The disciples of John fast often and offer prayers, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours eat and drink.”
34 And Jesus said to them, “Can you make wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them?
35 The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days.”
36 He also told them a parable: “No one tears a piece from a new garment and puts it on an old garment. If he does, he will tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old.
37 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed.
38 But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins.
39 And no one after drinking old wine desires new, for he says, ‘The old is good.’ ”

Our Bridegroom has provided His bride with new garments of salvation and righteousness.

Isaiah 61:10 (ESV) I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

Revelation 19:7-8 (ESV)

7 Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready;
8 it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure
”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.

Why would we tear our pure, white linen robe to try and fix up our old, torn, filthy and polluted garment?

How do we do that?