Matthew 19


Matthew 19:5

and said, ‘FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH’?

One flesh. When a man and a woman come together in marriage, they create something new – a marital union (Gen. 2:24). The joining together of a man and a woman into one flesh or body has both a physical aspect (see 1 Cor. 6:16), and a spiritual aspect (1 Cor. 6:17).


Matthew 19:6

“So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.”

(a) They are no longer two, but one. The marital union symbolizes the unity the believers have with the Lord (see entry for Eph. 5:32).

(b) God. Most of the time when Jesus spoke about God, he called him Father (see entry for Luke 2:49). But when speaking to the religious leaders and those under law, he typically called him God (theos).


Matthew 19:16

And someone came to Him and said, “Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?”

(a) What good thing shall I do. So many people are looking for a good thing to do, when the gospel declares a Good Thing has come and done a good thing for you. Jesus is the Good Thing who came from heaven (Heb. 10:1). Jesus is the Good Thing who satisfies the hungry (Luke 1:53).

(b) Obtain eternal life? In the other gospel accounts, this question is phrased differently: What shall I do to inherit eternal life (Mark 10:17, Luke 10:25, 18:18)? There is nothing you can do to inherit eternal life – it’s an inheritance. You only get it when someone dies, and Someone did.

Like the person in this story, some people are confused about salvation. They think that if they are basically good people, God will have to admit them into his kingdom. Such people are truly lost for they are relying on their self-righteousness. Salvation comes to us by grace, like an inheritance or gift. You cannot earn it. You can only receive it by faith (Eph. 2:8).

(c) Eternal life is living forever in union with Jesus; see entry for John 3:15.


Matthew 19:17

And He said to him, “Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.”

(a) Why are you asking Me about what is good? Jesus knew the ruler was self-righteous and considered himself a good man. Jesus cut straight to the heart of the man’s sin by immediately challenging his standard of goodness (Rom. 3:12).

(b) There is only One who is good. God alone is the definition of goodness and righteousness.

Self-righteousness is judging yourself by your own standard of righteousness. When you decide what is good and right, perhaps on the basis of your own moral judgment or the law, you are eating from the wrong tree and usurping God’s role as the Righteous Judge. True righteousness comes from trusting in Jesus, the Righteous One (2 Cor. 5:21).


Matthew 19:19

HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER; and YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.”

(a) Love your neighbor. This law, which comes from the law of Moses (Lev. 19:18), was quoted by Jesus more than once (Matt. 19:19, 22:39, Mark 12:31, Luke 10:27). James called it the royal law (see entry for Jas. 2:8).

(b) As yourself. “Loving others as yourself” can be contrasted with “Loving others as I have loved you” (see entry for John 13:34).

Under the old covenant, you provided the love and whatever else was needed to fulfil the law. But in the new covenant, we are able to love others because of the love we have from God (1 John 4:19). Under the old, you were the supply, but in the new, God supplies all our needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus (Php. 4:19).


Matthew 19:21

Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”

(a) Give to the poor. Stop investing in worldly wealth that fades away and store up heavenly treasure.

The Jews understood that giving to the poor was a pathway to blessing and a way to store up heavenly treasure (Deu. 15:10). “One who is gracious to a poor man lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his good deed” (Pro. 19:17).

(b) Treasure in heaven refers to people.

People are the treasure that moth and rust can’t touch and thieves can’t steal. When the Bible talks about spiritual offspring or eternal friends, it is referring to the only treasure you can take with you. Why did Jesus give up everything he have? To win you. You are his treasure.

See entry for Heavenly Treasure.


Matthew 19:27

Then Peter said to Him, “Behold, we have left everything and followed You; what then will there be for us?”

What then will there be for us? Jesus does not rebuke Peter for asking such a question but he outlines the incredible rewards of the Christian life.


Matthew 19:28

And Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Truly I say to you. Jesus is about to make an astonishing claim about the rewards of the Christian life (see next verse).


Matthew 19:29

“And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name’s sake, will receive many times as much, and will inherit eternal life.

(a) Everyone who has left. There is a cost in following Jesus. You will have to leave your old way of life and that could mean losing friendships. You might even be rejected by your family. But there is a handsome return to this investment.

(b) For My name’s sake means on account of faith in Jesus. Mark and Luke in their respective renderings of this verse add for the gospel’s sake and for the sake of the kingdom of God (Mark 10:29, Luke 18:29). There is no difference. We turn our back on the world for the sake of the gospel of King Jesus. Jesus is the reason; the rewards are incidental.

(c) Farms or fields imply businesses. Matthew ran a tax collection agency for the Romans but gave it up to follow Jesus. Peter and Andrew gave up a fishing business. Barnabas sold a field (Acts 4:37). Sometimes following Jesus incurs a substantial financial cost. But God takes care of us. He gives us new fields for old (John 4:35). The business of the kingdom is far more rewarding than any worldly enterprise business. It is the only business that offers eternal rewards.

(d) Will receive many times as much, and indeed, a hundred times as much. See entry for Mark 10:30.

(e) Inherit eternal life. Eternal life is an inheritance to receive and not a wage to be earned, and in Christ we have it.

In Christ we are heirs of salvation (Heb. 1:14), heirs of eternal life (Matt. 19:29, Mark 10:17, Eph. 1:14, Tit. 3:7), and heirs of blessed and gracious life (Eph. 1:3, 1 Pet. 3:7, 9). See entry for Inheritance.

(f) Eternal life is living forever in union with Jesus; see entry for John 3:15.


The Grace Commentary is a work in progress with new content added regularly. Sign up for occasional updates below. Got something to say? Please use the Feedback page. To report typos or broken links on this page, please use the comment form below.

Leave a Reply