Matthew 23:32-36. Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers’ wickedness Ye may now be as wicked as they: a word of permission, not of command: as if he had said, I contend with you no longer: I leave you to yourselves: you have conquered: now ye may follow the devices of your own hearts. Ye serpents Our Lord having now given up all hope of reclaiming them, speaks thus to deter others from the like sins. Wherefore That it may appear you are the true children of those murderers, and have a right to have their iniquities visited on you: behold, I send Is not this speaking as one having authority? Prophets Men with supernatural credentials; Wise men Such as have both natural abilities and experience; and scribes Men of learning: but all will not avail. That upon you may come all the righteous blood The consequence of which will be, that upon you will come the punishment of the blood of all the righteous men; shed upon the earth Temporal punishment must be intended, because in the life to come men shall not be punished for the sins of others to which they were not accessary. From the blood of righteous Abel The first prophet and preacher of righteousness, unto the blood of Zacharias, son of Barachias Most commentators think that Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada the priest, mentioned 2 Chronicles 24:20, (where see the note,) is here meant: and that either the words, son of Barachias, are the officious addition of some early transcriber of this gospel, (who might confound this martyr with Zechariah, one of the twelve minor prophets,) or that Jehoiada was also called Barachiah, having, as was not then uncommon, two names, both which, it may be observed, signify nearly the same thing: the latter word signifying one that blesses the Lord, and Jehoiada one that confesses him. Dr. Blayney, however, is confident that Zechariah, the minor prophet, is here intended, and that he was actually murdered, as is here said, though the Scriptures of the Old Testament are silent concerning the barbarous action. See the argument to my notes on Zechariah. Whom ye slew So he says, because by imitating their fathers’ conduct, they made the murder, committed by them, their own; between the temple That is, the house properly called the temple; and the altar Which stood in the outer court. Our Lord seems to refer to this instance, rather than to any other, because he was the last of the prophets that was slain by the Jews for reproving their wickedness; and we may add, (supposing Zechariah the son of Jehoiada to be meant,) because God’s requiring his blood, as well as that of Abel, is particularly taken notice of in Scripture, that holy man’s last words being, The Lord look upon it, and require it, 2 Chronicles 24:22. All these things The punishment of all these murders; shall come upon this generation This Jesus foreknew would be the case; and that though every possible method would be tried in order to their conversion, they would make light of all, and by so doing pull down upon themselves such terrible vengeance, as should be a standing monument of the divine displeasure against all the murders committed on the face of the earth from the beginning of time.
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