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SECTION XIII.* Observations concerning the Time of the Mission of the
Twelve. As Matthew makes no mention of any appointment of the twelve before the time when they were sent out to preach, and both Mark and Luke expressly say, that they were called to be with our Lord, some time before, with a view to their future mission; I have supplied the defect of Matthew from those other evangelists: and I have preferred Mark's account of the time of this event to that of Luke, because, according to the latter, it preceded the Sermon on the Mount, when, according to Matthew, who must have been the best informed in this case, he himself was not called to attend upon Jesus. And as both Mark and Luke expressly say that he then chose twelve, I can hardly think that he chose no more than eleven at that time, and afterwards made the number twelve by the call of Matthew.
It will be no objection to the appointment of the twelve at this time, that their mission followed so soon after ; for, in fact, all the twelve, except Matthew, had actually attended Jesus ever since his first appearance in Galilee ; and as Matthew seems to have resided at Capernaum, it is probable that he had both heard and seen much of Jesus, and particularly that he had heard the Sermon on the Mount, which was delivered in that neighbourhood.
It tends to confirm the supposition of this being the time when the apostles were really appointed, that the twelve are never mentioned in the account of any transaction previous to this time of their nomination, though that expression doth occur afterwards, as Mark iv, 10.
I have chosen, however, to depart from the authority of Matthew, at least from the present order of his Gospel, with respect to the time of the mission of the twelve, and the inquiry that John made concerning him, which is connected with it.
Matthew places these events immediately after those of the day in which he himself was called, and before the account of the disciples plucking the ears of corn ; and consequently a considerable time before our Lord's arrival at Nazareth, where Mark and Luke place it. I prefer the order of Mark and Luke for the following reasons :
* Essay IV. Sect. iii. Theol. Repos. II. pp. 230-235.
1. According to the present order of Matthew, the mission of the twelve follows the call of Matthew so closely, that it can hardly be supposed, that, simple as the business of their preaching then was, he could be sufficiently instructed for the purpose of his mission. Indeed, according to this order, the other eleven had not been called more than a few days before, and therefore cannot be supposed to have been much better qualified; whereas, upon my hypothesis, the twelve had been appointed, and had attended upon our Lord much longer.
2. According to the present order of Matthew's Gospel, Jesus pronounces the woe upon Chorazin and other places in that neighbourhood, (xi. 21,) before he had made one half of his stay in Galilee for that time; whereas it is more natural to suppose, with Mark and Luke, that he pronounced it just before his taking leave of Galilee, in order to go to Jerusalem, when the inhabitants of those cities had had more opportunities of seeing his miracles, and hearing his instructions.
Upon the whole, I think it easier to suppose a transposition * of those parts of Matthew's Gospel, than that this evangelist should give an account of things so much less natural and probable than Mark and Luke; and I think that several arguments may be drawn from the state of Matthew's Gospel itself, in favour of a transposition of all that intervenes between chap. ix. 34, and the end of the eleventh chapter ; and to conclude, that it was originally placed at the end of the thirteenth chaper.
3. Not the least objection can arise to this transposition from comparing the present connexion of the part to be transposed with the new connexion, but, on the contrary, something in favour of it; as Jesus's going about teaching in the cities and villages,” (ix. 35,) and sending out his apostles, seems more naturally to follow his being rejected at Nazareth, a country in which he had not preached before, and where he knew that his stay was to be very short, than any thing that is related antecedent to it in the present arrangement.
4. The transposition is more easily accounted for by considering, that the very same words, at that time, (EV EXEIVO To Xaigo,) follow the transposed parts, both in their present situation and in that in which I would place them. There is also something similar in the sense of what precedes the present and the supposed place of these transposed parts. For, as they now stand, they follow the account of the unbelief of the Pharisees, who ascribed the miracles of Jesus to the prince of demons; and where I would place them, they would follow the account of the unbelief of his own countrymen, who, because they knew his family, could not conceive how he should be so much distinguished.
* See this opinion controverted in “ A Vindication of the former Part of St. Matthew's Gospel, from Mr. Whiston's Charge of Dislocations. By Jeremiah Jones, 1718," passim. See supra, p. 18, Note *.
5. Matthew's account, as it now stands, is such a contradiction to that of Mark and Luke, as one would choose to avoid, if it could be done without much violence to the text. Mark and Luke are express in asserting, that the twelve returned from their mission on the day that Jesus fled from Herod, and just before the feeding of the five thousand. If this were so, it must be contrary to truth to represent the twelve as in company with our Lord in
any transaction that intervened between their mission and this retreat; but in this interval Matthew places the story of the corn-field, and many other transactions, in which the disciples (among whom, I believe, it is universally supposed, in this case, that the twelve are included, if they were not principally meant) are expressly said to have been with him.
6. Matther himself seems to mention a return of the twelve, as after some separation, at the time of this retreat, though not so particularly as Mark and Luke. Matt. xiv. 5: 66 And when it was even, the disciples came unto him.” And it is the more probable that the return after their mission was intended, since Matthew makes no other mention of their return, and it is at the very same time precisely which the other evangelists fix for their return.
7. When Jesus fled from Herod, after the death of John, not only do Mark and Luke represent him as being without his disciples, but Matthew also seems to suppose him in the same circumstances ; for he says, (xiv. 13,) " when Jesus heard of it, he departed thence, and the people followed him. But if the disciples were with him at this time, as Matthew, according to the present order of his Gospel, represents, since no separation is mentioned, they must have been with him then also, contrary to the express assertion of the other evangelists.
8. Admitting this transposition, all the neighbouring events in the history of Jesus have an easy connexion, and all the three evangelists agree in their arrangement of them; all of them representing the cure of the sick of the palsy and the call of Matthew as preceding the sabbath on which the disciples plucked the ears of corn; that about this time the twelve were appointed, and that upon our Lord's removal to Nazareth, and being rejected there, he went to preach in other cities and villages ; and that not having been in their neighbourhood since the commencement of his public ministry, and seeing great multitudes in want of instruction, he sent the twelve, two and two, to preach to them. This contributed to spread the fame of Jesus more than ever. John at this time sent to inquire concerning him. Herod also was alarmed, and probably threatening to seize him and his disciples, who were all in his territories, they all flee out of his dominions into those of his brother Philip, and meet the same day. Upon this supposition, also, the woe pronounced upon Chorazin, &c. is late and seasonable, as was observed before.
Whatever be thought of this proposed transposition, the order of Mark and Luke is certainly much more natural and probable than the present order of Matthew; which, considering that Matthew was present in all the transactions, and the other evangelists not, is not easily accounted for.
SECTION XIV.* Observations on the Order of Events from the Mission of the Twelve Apostles to Jesus' triumphant Entry into Jerusalem.
$1. Of the Duration of John's Imprisonment. As Matthew connects the inquiry that John made concerning Jesus, immediately with the mission of the apostles, and Mark (vi. 14) connects the alarm of Herod at the miracles of Jesus with the same event, it is probable that John was put to death soon after his sending those disciples ; and supposing that he lived till their return, he died in the fullest satisfaction concerning the mission of Jesus, that himself or his disciples could want. As John was thrown into prison presently after the passover, and was beheaded a Jittle before pentecost, it may be concluded that he lay in prison about five weeks.
* Essay, IV. Sect. iv. Theol. Repos. II. pp. 235-242.
§ 2. Of the Time when Jesus pronounced the Woe on the Cities
of Galilee. Luke represents our Lord as pronouncing the woe upon Chorazin, &c. in the hearing of the seventy disciples, after giving them their instructions ; but according to Matther, (xi. 20,) it was pronounced in the hearing of the people, after the discourse concerning John, when the twelve were not with him. It is not improbable but that our Lord might have used the same expressions more than once or twice. I have inserted this discourse where I suppose it was first used. Luke might introduce it where he has done, as being most pertinent on our Lord's taking his final leave of Galilee.
If it be said that our Lord's exclamation against the cities of Galilee which had not hearkened to his instructions, comes too soon after his arrival in Galilee from Judea, being not more than four weeks; I answer, that, besides that one solemn exhortation delivered in each of the places particularly mentioned would sufficiently authorize it, our Lord had been in Galilee before the passover, having at Cana changed the water into wine. Besides, this solemn denunciation might refer to what would be the consequence of all his preaching in Galilee, which continued till the feast of tabernacles, that is, all the summer or the best part of the year: and being delivered at this time, it might be kindly intended as an admonition to them, with respect to his future preaching to them.
$ 3. Whither the Disciples went after the feeding the Five
Thousand. Mark says, (vi. 45,) that Jesus, after feeding the five thousand, sent the disciples by ship to Bethsaida. John says, (vi. 17,) it was towards Capernaum ; but both those places were on the same side of the lake, and not far froin one another.
§ 4. Of Jesus's Journey to Jerusalem at the Feast of Pentecost.
Since Matthew, Mark and Luke omit any mention of Jesus's going to Jerusalem at the feast of pentecost, it seems probable that he went alone, and that he made no long stay. In the fifth chapter of John, where only we have any account of this journey, it is said that “ Jesus went up," but his disciples are not so much as mentioned in the whole