Chapter LXXIII.-Of the Person to Whom the Two Precepts
Concerning the Love of God and the Love of Our Neighbour Were Commended;
And of the Question as to the Order of Narration Which is Observed by Matthew
and Mark, and the Absence of Any Discrepancy Between Them and Luke.
141. Matthew then proceeds with his narrative in the following terms:
"But when the Pharisees had heard that He had put the Sadducees to silence,
they were gathered together. And one of them, which was a lawyer, asked
Him a question, tempting Him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment
in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with
all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the
first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt
love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law
and the prophets."509 This is recorded also by Mark, and that too in the
same order. Neither should there be any difficulty in the statement made
by Matthew, to the effect that the person by whom the question was put
to the Lord tempted Him; whereas Mark510 says nothing about that, but tells
us at the end of the paragraph how the Lord said to the man, as to one
who answered discreetly, "Thou art not far from the kingdom of God." For
it is quite possible that, although the man approached Him with the view
of tempting Him, he may have been set right by the Lord's response. Or
we need not at any rate take the tempting referred to in a bad sense, as
if it were the device of one who sought to deceive an adversary; but we
may rather suppose it to have been the result of caution, as if it were
the act of one who wished to have further trial of a person who was unknown
to him. For it is not without a good purpose that this sentence has been
written, "He that is hasty to give credit is light-minded, and shall be
142. Luke, on the other hand, not indeed in this order, but in a widely
different connection, introduces something which resembles this.512 But
whether in that passage he is actually recording this same incident, or
whether the person with whom the Lord [is represented to have] dealt in
a similar manner there on the subject of those two commandments is quite
another individual, is altogether uncertain. At the same time, it may appear
right to regard the person who is introduced by Luke as a different individual
from the one before us here, not only on the ground of the remarkable divergence
in the order of narration, but also because he is there reported to have
replied to a question which was addressed to him by the Lord, and in that
reply to have himself mentioned those two precepts. The same opinion is
further confirmed by the fact that, after telling us how the Lord said
to him, "This do, and thou shall live,"-thus instructing him to do that
great thing which, according to his own answer, was contained in the law,-the
evangelist follows up what had passed with the statement, "But he, willing
to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?"513 Thereupon,
too [according to Luke], the Lord told the story of the man who was going
down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers. Consequently, considering
that this individual is described at the outset as tempting Christ, and
is represented to have repeated the two commandments in his reply; and
considering, further, that after the counsel which was given by the Lord
in the words, "This do, and thou shalt live," he is not commended as good,
but, on the contrary, has this said of him, "But he, willing to justify
himself," etc., whereas the person who is mentioned in parallel order both
by Mark and by Luke received a commendation so marked, that the Lord spake
to him in these terms, "Thou art not far from the kingdom of God,"-the
more probable view is that which takes the person who appears on that occasion
to be a different individual from the man who comes before us here.
Chapter LXXIV.-Of the Passage in Which the Jews are Asked to Say
Whose Son They Suppose Christ to Be; And of the Question Whether There
is Not a Discrepancy Between Matthew and the Other Two Evangelists, in
So Far as He States the Inquiry to Have Been, "What Think Ye of Christ?
Whose Son is He?" And Tells Us that to This They Replied, "The Son of David;"Whereas
the Others Put It Thus, "How Say the Scribes that Christ is David's Son?"
143. Matthew goes on thus: "Now when the Pharisees were gathered together,
Jesus asked them, saying, What think ye of Christ? Whose son is He? They
say unto Him, The son of David. He saith unto them, How then doth David
in Spirit call Him Lord, saying, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit Thou on
my right hand, till I make Thine enemies Thy footstool? If David then call
Him Lord, how is He his son? And no man was able to answer Him a word,
neither durst any man from that day forth ask Him any more questions."514
This is given also by Mark in due course, and in the same order.515 Luke,
again, only omits mention of the person who asked the Lord which was the
first commandment in the law, and, after passing over that incident in
silence, observes the same order once more as the others, narrating just
as these, do this question which the Lord put to the Jews concerning Christ,
as to how He was David's son.516 Neither is the sense at all affected by
the circumstance that, as Matthew puts it, when Jesus had asked them what
they thought of Christ, and whose son He was, they [the Pharisees] replied,
"The son of David," and then He proposed the further query as to how David
then called Him Lord; whereas, according to the version presented by the
other two, Mark and Luke, we do not find either that these persons were
directly interrogated, or that they made any answer. For we ought to take
this view of the matter, namely, that these two evangelists have introduced
the sentiments which were expressed by the Lord Himself after the reply
made by those parties, and have recorded the terms in which He spoke in
the hearing of those whom He wished profitably to instruct in His authority,
and to turn away from the teaching of the scribes, and whose knowledge
of Christ amounted then only to this, that He was made of the seed of David
according to the flesh, while they did not understand that He was God,
and on that ground also the Lord even of David. It is in this way, therefore,
that in the accounts given by these two evangelists, the Lord is mentioned
in a manner which makes it appear as if He was discoursing on the subject
of these erroneous teachers to men whom He desired to see delivered from
the errors in which these scribes were involved. Thus, too, the question,
which is presented by Matthew in the form, "What say ye?" is to be taken
not as addressed directly to these [Pharisees], but rather as expressed
only with reference to those parties, and directed really to the persons
whom He was desirous of instructing.
509 Matt. xxii. 34-40.
510 Another but evidently faulty reading is sometimes
found here,-namely, Lucas autem hoc tacet et in fine Marcus, etc. = whereas
Luke says nothing about that, and Mark tells us, etc.
511 Minorabitur. Ecclus. xix. 4.
512 Luke x. 25-37.
513 Luke x. 29.
514 Matt. xxii. 41-46.
515 Mark xii. 35-37.
516 Luke xx. 41-44.