on Matthew 13 :55
Is not this the carpenter's son? - Seven copies of the old Itala have, Is not this the son of Joseph the carpenter? But it is likely our Lord, during the thirty years of his abode at Nazareth, wrought at the same trade with Joseph; and perhaps this is what is intended, Luke 2:51. He went down with them (his parents) to Nazareth, and was Subject unto them. An honest trade is no discredit to any man. He who spends his time in idleness is fit for any business in which the devil chooses to employ him.
Is not his mother - Mary, and his brethren, James, etc. - This insulting question seems to intimate that our Lord's family was a very obscure one; and that they were of small repute among their neighbors, except for their piety.
It is possible that brethren and sisters may mean here near relations, as the words are used among the Hebrews in this latitude of meaning; but I confess it does not appear to me likely. Why should the children of another family be brought in here to share a reproach which it is evident was designed for Joseph the carpenter, Mary his wife, Jesus their son, and their other children? Prejudice apart, would not any person of plain common sense suppose, from this account, that these were the children of Joseph and Mary, and the brothers and sisters of our Lord, according to the flesh? It seems odd that this should be doubted; but, through an unaccountable prejudice, Papists and Protestants are determined to maintain as a doctrine, that on which the Scriptures are totally silent, viz. the perpetual virginity of the mother of our Lord. See Matthew 1:25.
on Matthew 13 :55
Is not this the carpenter's son? - Mark says, "Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary?" Both these expressions would probably be used in the course of the conversation, and Matthew has recorded one and Mark the other. The expression recorded by Mark is a strong, perhaps decisive proof that he had himself worked at the business until he was 30 years of age. The people in the neighborhood would understand well the nature of his early employments. It is therefore almost certain that this had been his manner of life. A useful employment is always honorable. Idleness is the parent of mischief. Our Saviour, therefore, spent the greatest part of his life in honest, useful industry. Until the age of 30 he did not choose to enter on his great work; and it was proper before that time that he should set an example to the world of honorable though humble industry. Life is not wasted in such employments. They are appointed as the lot of man; and in the faithful discharge of duties in the relations of life, though obscure; in honest industry, however humble; in patient labor, if connected with a life of religion, we may be sure that God will approve our conduct. It was, moreover, the custom of the Jews - even those of wealth and learning - to train all their children to some "trade" or manual occupation. Thus Paul was a tent-maker. Compare Acts 18:3.
This was, on the part of the Saviour, an example of great condescension and humility. It staggers the faith of many that the Son of God should labour in an occupation so obscure and lowly. The infidel sneers at the idea that "He that made the worlds" should live thirty years in humble life as a poor and unknown mechanic. Yet the same infidel will loudly praise Peter the Great of Russia because he laid aside his imperial dignity and entered the British service as a "ship-carpenter," that he might learn the art of building a navy. Was the purpose of "Peter" of more importance than that of the Son of God? If Peter, the heir to the throne of the Czars, might leave his elevated rank and descend to a humble employment, and secure by it the applause of the world, why might not the King of kings evince a similar character for an infinitely higher object?
His brethren, James ... - The fair interpretation of this passage is, that these were the sons and daughters of Joseph and Mary. The people in the neighborhood thought so, and spoke of them as such.
on Matthew 13 :55