Ezekiel J. (Ezekiel Jones) Chapman.

Critical and explanatory notes on many passages of the New Testament which to common readers are hard to be understood [microform] : also, an illustration of the genuine beauty and force of several other passages online

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Online LibraryEzekiel J. (Ezekiel Jones) ChapmanCritical and explanatory notes on many passages of the New Testament which to common readers are hard to be understood [microform] : also, an illustration of the genuine beauty and force of several other passages → online text (page 1 of 52)
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NOTES, ^^,^









fAlTOK or A CBPacH or cheist iii bjudtol^ a, f.

raixtTso B7 JAME8 o. asMn*



THE follotring recotnineiidatioas, from the Rer. Dr. Fitcb, late Pres«
ident of Williamstoivn College, and the Rer. Mr. Tavlor. formerlj
a Minister of the Gospel in Deerfieid, Mail, will afford some evidence
of the merits of this work :

HAVING examined nearly the whole of the Work entitled, " Crit'
ical and Explanatory IVotes, on difficult passages in the New Testament,
by the Rev. Esekiel J. Chapman," I find it to contain the substance of
the opinions and expositions of the best critics and commentatocs,
with which I am acquainted, with original criticisms, remarks and ob-
tervatious of the Author, which, in mj view, manifest close attentioii
to the subjects, a critical knowledge of the original, good judgment
and soundness in the faith. The work, in my opinion, corrects several
errors in our common translation of the Scriptures, throws light on dif-
ficult pas>iages, and is calculated to assist students in theology, and pri*
Tate christians in their endeavors to know the true meaning of these
parts of the sacred oracles. I can therefore cheerfully recommend
the work to public patronage. EBENEZER FITCH.

If'est-Bloonifteld, August 13, 1818.

Hatinq examined a part of the work entitled, "Critical and Ex-
planatory Notes on difficult passages of the New Testament," by the
Rer. EzcKicL J. Chapman ; and being satisfied that it will be a useful
publication, casting much light un such passages — I do hereby recom-
mend it to the patronage of the public.


Mendon, August 17, 1818.


THE Author of the following little work, has one
request to make. It is : that previously to any judg-
ments being passed thereon, his object in publishing
it may be understood. That is, in short, not so much
to instruct the learned (though he hopes that some
part of the work will be at least entertaining to them)
as to furnish plain common people with a compendi-
ous exposition of such passages of Scripture, as they
have frequently proposed to him, and he presumes to
many other ministers also, for explanation. Such
exposition or explanation, may indeed be found in
some of our best commentators, paraphrasts, and crit-
ics ; but their works are in general too expensive to
be bought, as well as too voluminous to be read, by
the people in question. A compendium of judicious
criticism and of explanatory remarks on some of the
most important difficult passages of the New Testa-
ment, designed for the benefit, and adapted to the un-
derstandings, of the common people, has long appear-
ed to him a desideratum in theology. Such a com-
pendium he has endeavored to furnish. Of his suc-
cess herein, others better informed and less interested
in the reputation of the present work than himself,
must judge. The author's object having been thus
explicitly stated, he hopes that no considerate reader
will think it strange, either that no more has been


said, by way of explanation, on some of the many
texts to which he has attended, or that so little has
been said in the directly devotional strain.

The reflecting reader will probably think of many
other passages in the New Testament, which need
some elucidation beside those inserted in the present
work. The author has confined himself to such as
appeared to him most important to be explained. —
With the Apocalypse of 8t. John he has had but
little concern ; and for two reasons : almost the whole
of that book is to an unusual degree symbolical, and
of course very difficult to be explained, with any de-
sirable precision, until tiie great events therein sym-
bolized, shall have taken place. Besides, the expla-
nation of it, even if practicable, would comprize such
a vast body of historical facts, &c. that it could not
be admitted within the designed limits of the present

For his assistance and ultimate success in prepar-
ing the following work, he has carefully consulted
some of the best biblical expositors now in use, as
well as some of the most approved treatises on ancient
manners and customs. Human authorities, for the
confirmation of his criticisms and remarks, have been
rarely appealed to in the body of the work ; but this
was not because in general they could not be had, nor
because they were not respectable ; but because his
object already announced, did not appear to him to
render such a procedure very necessary, and his de-
signed brevity certainly did not render it possible. —
Above all, he has diligently searched the Holy Scrip-


lures in their original languages, determining to think
fur himself, and asked for those illuminations of the
Blessed Spirit, without which our light is darkness,
our knowledge ignorance, and our wisdom folly, —
Majr *' He guide us into all the truth."


Critical and Eoi^jlanatonj i\otes, ii^-c.


CiiAP. iii. it. " He will burn up the chaff with
unquenchable fire."' — This prediction of John Bap-
tist, alludes to the following practice of people in his
days. Having winnowed the grain, and thus separ-
ated the chaff from the wheat, they set fire to the for-
mer on the windward side. The fire in that case had
such an advantage over the chaff, that it would not
cease until the chaff had been utterly consumed. —
Thus tlie fire was unquenchable. And thus figurative-
ly, yet impressively, does the Baptist represent the
worthlessness of liypocrites, (for they in a spiritual
sense are the chaff) and also their complete and eter-
nal ruin.

Chap. v. 21. " Ye have heard (hat it hath been
said by them of old time,*' &c. — The original may as
well, or more properly, be translated thus : *• it hath
been said to the ancients.*' The design of our Sav -
iour in this chapter, appears to have been to remind
tlie Jews of those laws and prohibitions which the
Lord had given to their fathers, as well as of those
^Ijisses and erroneous constructions which had been
ptit upon them by their fathers and rabbis>


Chap. vi. 30. ^- Wherefore, if God so clothe «i«
grass of the field, which to-day is, and to- morrow h
east into the oven, shall He not much more clothe you,
ye of little faith?'' — From Docts. llussel and
Shaw, we learn, that on account of the extreme scar-
city of fuel, the easterns use the dry stalks of herbs
and flowers, of rosemary, and of various other plants,
to make fire, and to beat their ovens. To common
readers, casting grass or herbage into ovens, sounds
strange ; but such, for the reason just mentioned, has
long been the practice in Judea, and in the countries

Chap. vi. 34. ^^ Take therefore no thought for the
morrow." — In the delivery of this precept, our Saviour
designed not to prohibit or discourage absolutely all
care and concern about our future temporal condition,
but merely to repress solicitude or anxiety about it ;
as must be evident both from the precise import of the
original verb, which signifies to take anxious thought,
and also from the fact that such absolute indiflference
would be altogether inconsistent with the subsistence
of people in the present life.

Chap. v. 39. " But I say unto you, that ye resist
not evil ; but whosoever shall smite thee on the right
cheek, turn to him the other also.*' — The word evil in
this passage denotes not the Evil One, for him we are
expressly commanded to resist, (James iv. 70 nor the
evil thing or moral evil sin ; for this we are command-
ed both to resist and to mortify ; but the evil man. the
unreasonable and angry assailant. For proof of ihSs,
Bttthing more is necessary than a mere attention to tne


wliole passai^e : •* I say unto you, that ye resist not,
or rather, not to resist evil ; but whosoever shall smite
thee on the right cheek, turn to him the other also."

With respect to the last clause of this verse, it is
evident tiiat its spirit, rather than the letter of it, is to
he regarded by us. The general duty of exercising
and cultivating a forgiving disposition, in opposition
to a retaliating and revengeful one, appears to be the
whde of what our Saviour intended by this injunc-

Chap. viii. 24. "And Jesus saith unto him, see
thou tell no man ; but go thy way, shew thyself to the
priest, and ofler the gift that Moses commanded, for
:i testimony unto tlicm." — The gift here miJntionedj
denotes tlie gift, or offering, of birds and lambs, as pre-
scribed in l^v. xiv. i-33, for the cleansed leper.—
These he was to offer in presence of the Jewish priest?
whose official duty it was to pronounce him in that
case legally clean, and all this was to be done "for
a testimony unto them," i. e. to the Jews, that the
leper was legally cleansed. From the whole system
of divine institutes, relative to the plague of leprosy,
and particularly from the extreme caution and dili-
gence with which the priest was to proceed in his ex*
amination of him suspected to be the subject of it, we
learn how careful and how faithful ecclesiastical judi-
catories should be in examining and disciplining the
members of their body, and especially those of them
whose " spot is not the spot of God's children." For
the loathsome disease of leprosy undoubtedly repre-
sents sin the still more loathsome disease of the soul.


Ouce more : from our Lord's particular direction to
the healed leper, it is demonstrable that the Jevvisk
dispensation was not then abolished ; that on the con-
trary, its ceremonial injunctions remained in undimin-
ished force.

Chap. xii. 43. "When tlie unclean spirit is gone
out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking
j-est and iindeth none,*" &c. — From the expression in
.our Englisii Bible^ '' he walketh through dry places,
seeking rest,"" many readers probably suppose that the
dispossessed man is here meant. But this is a mis-
take. It is not the man, but the spirit who is
here figuratively represented as walking through dry
places, seeking rest, and finding none. One proof of
this is, that, in tlie original Greek, the participles ren-
dered seeking, having collie^ are in the neuter gender,
and must of course, accordins: to the rules of syntax,
agree with the antecedent — pxeuma, spirit. — Tins
passage is sometimes used to disprove the doctrine of
the saints' final perseverance ; but that it is of no force
at all for this purpose, is very evident : for not only does
the passage treat exclusively of such demoniack pos-
sessions as were peculiar to our Saviour's time, but al-
so, it is wholly silent as to any good spirit's having
ever been in the man. For surely to prove that the
man ever fell from a state of grace, it must be made
to appear that he ever had the root of the matter in
him (for no man can fall from or lose that which he
never had), and that this may be made to appear, some-
thing more must be proved than merely that the evil
spirit left him. — The parable before us is also appli-
eable to tlie Jews as a nation ; for the Saviour ok-


pkt'-sly applied it to tlieni. For havini^ remarked tliA
the evil spirit went and took with himself seven otliei"
spirils, more wicked than himself, and thus fortified,
re-entered his old hiibitation, lie added, ^'cven so
shall it he also unto this wicked general iov.'- And
as applied to them, it denotes that the hosts of hell
and powers of darkness, perceiving that they were
unahle to withstand the artillery of truth, as managed
by John Bajitist, Je>;us ('hrist and his apostles, would
flee for safety to the. Gentile nations : places which had
always been dry, as they had never yet been watered
from the "river of God.*' There, however, they
would be as unable to find rest as before, for the apos-
tles would surely " search them out through all the
thousands of Israel :■' yea, as the triumph of the Gos-
pel among the Gentiles would be both more decisive
and more general than it had been among the Jews.
(he evil spirit would perceive himself to be in great-
er danger, and be more alarmed tiian before, and
would accordingly return \\ ith sevenfold rage and vi-
olence to his former possession — the Jewish nation ;
a prediction which, with aw ful exactness, has been full
tilled ujjou liiat devoted people.

Chap. xiv. 26. '* The disciples >vere troubled,
saying, It is a spirit,'' i. e. a spectre, an apparition,
for the original word is not pneuma, but phantasma.

Chap, xviii. 6. ^^ Whosoever therefore shall of-
fend one of these little ones that believe in me, it were
better for him that a millstone were hung about his
neck, and tJiat he were drowned in the depth of the
sea." — The first and most common meaning of ih^


English word offend, is to irritate — to make angry.
But the original word here used, signifies to cause one.
to fall, by laying a stumbling block before him. The
expression, of hanging a mill-stone about one's neck,
and thus drowning him in the midst of tlie sea, alludes
to a mode of punishment sometimes used among the
Jews. But our Saviour did not mean, that, of even a
more tremendous punishment than this, a person w ould
be worthy, merely because he should happen to dis-
please one of his disciples : But the denunciation in
this passage is manifestly levelled only against such
as should, whether by persecution or flattery, or in
whatever way, become designedly the instruments of
the apostacy and ruin of his followers.

Chap, xviii. 34. " And his Lord was wroth, and
delivered him to the tormentors (i. e. prison keepers)
till he should pay all that was due.'- — The prisons of
the ancients were quite dillerent from ours. Their
prison was a part of a private house, and commonly
of the house where their criminal judges dwelt. —
Hence then we have the illustration of Jer. xxxvii,
15 : " Wherefore the princes were wroth with Jere-
miah, and smote him and put him in prison in the
Tiouse of Jonathan the scribe." Another fact relative
to the eastern prisons is, that the keepers of them had,
and still, to a lamentable degree, have the power to
treat the prisoners just as they please. All required
of them was to produce or present the prisoners when
they should be demanded. The injunction on them
was not to treat the prisoners humanely, &c. but to
Tceep them safebj, Acts xvi. SS. They might indulge
them with privileges^ or put them io irons, throw them


into llie dungeon, and in short torment them according
to their pleasure. Hence then the force of this pas-
sage : " delivered hira to the tormentors." Hence
(be force of Jeremiah's request, that he might not be
earried back to the dungeon, lest he should die —
hence the energy of tliose scriptures which speak of
the " sighing of the prisoner.'' And, what a terrible
emblem is there here of the future misery of the finally
impenitent !

Chap. xix. 28. "Verily I say unto you, that ye
which have followed nie in the regeneration, when the
son of man shall sit upon the throne of his glory, ye
also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve
tribes of Israel." — From the punctuation in Gries-
bach's edition of the Greek New Testament, (which
by the learned is most approved) it would appear that
the PALiNGKNKSiA — tlic regeneration here mentioned,
is to be understood as referring not to Christ's disci-
ples, and so denoting that moral change which they
had experienced, but to the day when the Son of maa
should sit upon the throne of his glory — in other
words, that regeneration in this place denotes that
great change in the moral world which will be effect-
ed at the day of judgment, when there shall be made
a new heavens and a new earth ; that in short, it is as
if Christ had said, •• Ye who have followed mc in this
world, shjiU on the great day — that day of the restitu-
tion of all things. Acts iii. SI, and of moral regenera-
tion — sit upon twelve thrones," &c. But to conclude
hence, as it appears some have done, that personal re.
i:;eneration (meaning thereby the renovation of th«


heart) does not take place in this world, nor until thf
day of jndgnient, is extremely absurd.

Chap. xx. 23. ^^But to sit on my rigiit liand and
on my left, is not mine to give, but it sball be given to
tbem for whom it is prepared of my P'ather.'^ — The
sentence, '• it shall be given to them," is inserted by
our translators, and there is nothing answering to it in
the original. This interpolation, designed, no doubt,
to illustrate, appears greatly to obscure or rather to
misrepresent, our Saviour\s meaning : For as the pas-
sage now stands, the word mine seems to be emphat-
ical, and common readers would naturally, from the
whole, infer, that the privilege of sitting at Christ's
right hand, He had no power to give to any : — that
however, it should be given (say by his Father) to them
for whom it was prepared. But leave out the inter-
polation, and the true meaning of the passage is per-
fectly plain — thus, " to sit on ray right hand and on
my left, is not mine to give, but for whom it is prepar-
ed of ray Father.'*' The passage, therefore, when
rightly understood, does not at all contradict, but
rather supports, the doctrine of our Saviour's divinity.

Cha?. xxii. S8, 33. -'Therefore in the resurrec-
tion, whose wife shall she be of the seven ? for they
all had her. Jesus answered and said unto them, ye
•do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of
^od. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor
are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in
heaven. But, as touching the resurrection of the dead,
liave ye not read that w^hich was spoken unto you by
Crod, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God

of Isaac, and tho God of Jacob ? God is not the God
of the dead, but of the living." If regard be had
merely to the etymology of the word anastasis, it
must be allowed that it is rightly rendered in English,
resurrection. In the verses now before us, it seems
liowever to denote that state of being which succeeds
the resurrection, and which is commonly called the
separate state. For instance the argument : our
Saviour introduceth the declaration of Jehovah to
Moses, Exod. iii. 3, 6, as a proof and an instance of
the anastasis. But surely from the existing state of
those patriardis in Moses' time, it could never be
proved that the now dead bodies of men will rise
again. For those patriarchs had not risen again,
and of course their case was neither an instance, nor
a proof, of the litem! resurrection. But it was both
a proof and an instance of a state of conscious exist-
rnce after death. In a word, from this declaration
of Jehovah to Moses, " I am tlie God of Abraham,
Isaac, and Jacob," — a declaration made four hun-
dred years after their death, the logical conclusion
is simply and solely this, viz. : that those patriarchs,
i. e. their souls, were then alive. The conclusion
then is, that the verses before us, are a direct and
complete proof of a separate and a future state, but
not of a corporeal resurrection, otherwise than by im-
plication and inference.

Chap, xxiii. 5. " They make broad their phy-
lacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments."
— The Greek word, translated phylacteries, is dOr
rived from phulasso, to keep, to preserve, and as
here used, denotes those scrips of parchment which


the Jews wore on their foreheads, or on some con-
spicuous part of their garments, and on which were
written and preserved some select and favourite sen-
tences of their law. This practice was in conformity
to the precept in Deut. vi. 7 — 9^ which they under-
stood in the literal sense.

Chap. xxiv. 15. "When ye therefore sliall see
the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel
the prophet, stand in the holy place," &c. — In Dan.
xi. 31, it is called the abomination that maketh des-
olate, " SHiKKUTz MESHOMUM. By the expression
is intended, generally, the Roman army, which em-
phatically made desolate by its ravages and conquests.
It was called the abomination of desolation, on ac-
count of those images of tlieir idols, which were en-
graven on their standards, aiul which were extremely
abominable to the Jews — abominable, both because
generally they were the images of deities, which,
by the second commandment, the Jews were ex-
pressly prohibited from making ; and because they
•were the images of such detestable deities as the
Romans worshipped.

Chap. xxiv. 17- ^^ Let him which is on the
house-top not come down to take any thing out of his
bouse." — To understand this passage, it must be re-
membered that the houses of the Jews had flat or
horizontal roofs. Hence we read of David's " walk-
ing upon the roof of his house," 2 Sam. xi. 2. The
meaning of our Saviour evidently was, that those
Jews, who should happen to be on the roofs of their
houses (whether for the purpose of walking of oh


:iervation) when the Roman armies appeared before
Jerusalem, should entirely disregard every thing in
the house, however valuable, and, if they meant to
save their lives, go immediately down at the outer
stairs and flee out of the city.

Chap. xxiv. 28. "For wlieresoever the carcase
is, there will tlie eagles be gathered together.'' —
This remark is undoubtedly true in the literal'sense.
To a dead, mouldering, putrifying body, not only
eagles, but other winged animals, spontaneously re-
sort. Gen. XV. H. It is however sufficiently evi-
dent that our Lord intended that this remark (which
it appears was a kind of proverb among the Jews)
should be understood in some other than the literal
sense. For from the parallel passage in Luke xvii.
37, it appears that it was in answer to the disciples'
inquiry, " Where Lord ?" i. e. where shall these
predicted calamities be experienced ? To this inqui-
ry, Christ giveth no other reply, than " wheresoever
the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered to-
gether." The reply was doubtless appropriate, be-
cause it was Christ's. By the carcase, therefore,
must be meant the inhabitants of Jerusalem, who, as
a peojile, were morally and judicially dead ; and by
the eagles, the images on the Roman standards.

Chap. xxiv. 41. "Two women shall be grinding at
the mill ; the one shall be taken, and the other left."
— To a mere Knglish reader, and to any one not
acquainted with ancient manners and customs, this
prediction of Christ appears strange and almost un-
intelligible. For the satisfaction of such readers, it


should be observed, that the ancient mills, and me-
thod of grinding corn, were very different from ours.
Their mills w^ere hand-mills, and managed by avo-
men. The orientals have preserved mills of the
same sort, and the same method of grinding, down
to the present time. Dr. Clarke, in his late travels
through Palestine, observed the same practice at
Nazareth. Two women sat on the ground, opposite
to each other, with two round flatted stones. On
the top was an aperture, or cavity, where the corn
was put in, just as it now is into the hoppers of our
grist mills. These stones or stone mills were turned,
it seems, with a sort of crank, and sometimes pushed
from one to the other. In this manner they ground
daily. This business is usually done in the morning,
so that if any one then walks out, he will hear the
noise of many of these mills going at the same time.
Hence, by the way, we have an illustration of Jer.
XXV. 10 : *' Moreover, I will take from them the
voice of mirth, and the voice of gladness, the voice of
the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride, the sound
of the millstones, and the light of the candle."

Chap. xxv. 36. " — sick, and ye visited me." —
The original word here used (from which the noun^
EPiSKOPOs, overseer or bishop, is derived) signifies a
looking after, overseeing, taking care of, &c. In
Acts vi. 3, the same word is rendered *^ look out."
It is only for such a visiting of the sick, that the final
benediction of the Saviour will be pronounced. " Let
him that readeth understand.'^



Chap. iii. 14. "And he ordained twelve, that
they should be with Him, and that He might send
tliem forth to preach.^' — There are three Greek

Online LibraryEzekiel J. (Ezekiel Jones) ChapmanCritical and explanatory notes on many passages of the New Testament which to common readers are hard to be understood [microform] : also, an illustration of the genuine beauty and force of several other passages → online text (page 1 of 52)