Matthew 20:24-28; Mark 10:41-45;
24. And when the ten heard it, 1 they were displeased with the two brethren. 25. And Jesus called them to him, and said, You know that the princes of the Gentiles rule over them, and they who are great exercise authority over them. 26. It shall not be so among you: but whoever wishes to be great among you, let him be your minister; 27. And he that wishes to be chief among you, let him be your servant: 28. Even as the Son of man came not that he might be served, but that he might serve, and that he might give his life a ransom for many.
41. And when the ten heard it, they began to be displeased with James and John. 42. And Jesus, when he had called them to him, saith to them, You know that they who appear to rule over the Gentiles exercise dominion over them; and they who are princes among them exercise power over them. 43. But it shall not be so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you, shall be your minister;. And whoever wishes to be chief among you, shall be your servant. 45. For even the Son of man came not that he might be served, but that he might serve, and that he might give his life a ransom for many.
24. And there arose also a dispute among them, which of them appeared to be greatest. 25. And he said to them, The kings of the Gentiles rule over them; and they that have power over them are called benefactors. 26. But you are not so: but he that is greatest among you, let him become as the younger; and he that is ruler, as he that serves. 27. For which is greater, he that sitteth at table, or her that serveth? Is it not he that sitteth at table? But I am in the midst of you as he that serveth.
This reflects the error of the Anabaptists, who exclude kings and magistrates from the Church of God, because Christ declares 5 that they are not like his disciples; though the comparison is here made not between Christians and ungodly men, but between the nature of their offices. Besides, Christ did not look so much at the persons of men as at the condition of his Church. For it was possible that one who was governor of a village or of a city might, in a case of urgent necessity, discharge also the office of teaching; but Christ satisfied himself with explaining what belongs to the apostolic office and what is at variance with it.
But a question arises, Why does Christ, who appointed separate orders in his Church, disown in this passage all degrees? For he appears to throw them all down, or, at least, to place them on a level, so that not one rises above the rest. But natural reason prescribes a very different method; and Paul, when describing the government of the Church, (Ephesians 4:11,) enumerates the various departments of the ministry, in such a manner as to make the rank of apostleship higher than the office of pastors. Timothy and Titus also, are unquestionably enjoined by him to exercise authoritative superintendence over others, according to the command of God. I reply, if we carefully examine the whole, it will be found that even kings do not rule justly or lawfully, unless they serve; but that the apostolic office differs from earthly government in this respect, that the manner in which kings and magistrates serve does not prevent them from governing, or indeed from rising above their subjects in magnificent pomp and splendor. Thus David, Hezekiah, and others of the same class, while they were the willing servants of all, used a scepter, a crown, a throne, and other emblems of royalty. But the government of the Church admits nothing of this sort; for Christ allowed the pastors nothing more than to be ministers, and to abstain entirely from the exercise of authority. Here, to it ought to be observed, that the discourse relates to the thing itself rather than to the disposition. Christ distinguishes between the apostles and the rank of kings, not because kings have a right to act haughtily, but because the station of royalty is different from the apostolic office. While, therefore, both ought to be humble, it is the duty of the apostles always to consider what form of government the Lord has appointed for his Church.
As to the words which Matthew employs,
exalted by the Father, in order that every knee might bow to him, (Philippians 2:9,10,)
it is easy to reply, that what he now says refers to the period of his humiliation. Accordingly, Luke adds, that he lived among them, as if he were a servant: not that in appearance, or in name, or in reality, he was inferior to them, (for he always wished to be acknowledged as their Master and Lord,) but because from the heavenly glory he descended to such meekness, that he submitted to bear their infirmities. Besides, it ought to be remembered that a comparison is here made between the greater and the less, as in that passage,
If I, who am your Master and Lord, have washed your feet, much more ought you to perform this service to one another,
1 "Les dix autres ayans ouy cela;" -- "the other ten having heard that."
2 "Les dix autres ayans ouy cela;" -- "the other ten having heard that."
3 "Avoyent follement desire une chose qu'ils n'ont peu obtenir;" -- "had foolishly desired a thing which they could not obtain."
4 "Qu'il n'y a point de folie plus grande, que de debattre d'une chose qui n'est point;" -- "that there is no greater folly than to debate about a thing which does not exist."
5 "Sous couleur de ce que Christ dit;" -- "under the pretense of what Christ says."
6 "Toutesfois ils appetent d'avoir la louange d'estre magnifiques et liberaux;" -- "yet they desire to have the praise of being sumptuous and liberal."
8 "De se rendre serviteur a ses compagnons;" -- "to become a servant to his companions."
9 "Il prend PLUSIEURS, non pas pour quelque certain nombre, mais pour les autres: car il fait une comparaison de sa personne a tout le reste des hommes;" -- "He takes MANY, not for any fixed number, but for the others; for he makes a comparison of his person with all the rest of men."
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