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Verses 20-23

Matthew 20:20-23. Then came to him the mother of Zebedee’s children Instigated, it seems, by them. See Mark 10:35. With her sons James and John; worshipping him That is, falling down before him; and desiring a certain thing of him, &c. Considering what he had just been speaking, was ever any thing more unseasonable? See also chap. Matthew 18:1; Mark 9:34; where a similar spirit of ambition manifested itself among the disciples on a similar occasion, Christ having then also just foretold his sufferings. Grant that these my two sons may sit, &c., in thy kingdom Still they expected a temporal kingdom. Jesus answered, Ye know not what ye ask Ye are not aware what is implied in being advanced in my kingdom, and what is necessarily prerequired in order thereto. All who share in my kingdom must first share in my sufferings. Are you able and willing to do this? Both the expressions here used, the cup and the baptism, are to be understood of his sufferings and death. The like expressions were common among the Jews. They say unto him, We are able Not knowing, it appears, what they said. And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup “Accordingly it is observable, that this James was the first of all the apostates who suffered martyrdom for Christ, Acts 12:2; and John was scourged by the Jews, Acts 5:40; and afterward banished by Domitian into the isle of Patmos, where he speaks of himself as a companion in Christ’s tribulation: (Revelation 1:9:) not to mention Tertullian’s tradition, that at Rome he was plunged into boiling oil; by which, it is said, instead of being destroyed, he was sensibly refreshed; nor what the pretended Prochorus says of the attempts made by some heretics to poison him, which is generally referred to in the pictures of this apostle, where the venom is ridiculously represented as coming out of the cup, in the form of a serpent, to signify, that the poison did not take effect.” Doddridge. To sit on my right hand, &c., is not mine to give; but it shall be given, &c. These words, but it shall be given, are not in the original, but are supplied, and that unnecessarily, by our translators. The original words, ουκ εστιν εμον δουναι , αλλοις ητοιμασται , should be rendered, It is not mine to give, unless to them for whom it is prepared of my Father; αλλα being here put for ει μη , as it is also Mark 9:8. That is, I can give the chief places in my kingdom to none but to those who, according to the immutable laws of my Father, are capable of occupying them. He applies to the glories of heaven what his disciples were so stupid as to understand of the glories of earth: but he does not deny that these are his to give. They are his to give in the strictest propriety, both as God, and as the Son of man. See John 10:28; Luke 22:29. He only asserts, that he gives them to none but those for whom they are originally prepared, namely, these glories, to those who endure to the end in the faith that worketh by love, and the chief places to them who are most eminent for their graces, according to the unalterable laws of the divine administration.

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