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Wesley's Notes on Matthew 21:23-32
23. When he was come into the temple, the chief priests came - Who thought he violated their right: and the elders of the people - Probably, members of the sanhedrim, to whom that title most properly belonged: which is the more probable, as they were the persons under whose cognizance the late action of Christ, in purging the temple, would naturally fall. These, with the chief priests, seem purposely to have appeared in a considerable company, to give the more weight to what they said, and if need were, to bear a united testimony against him. As he was teaching - Which also they supposed he had no authority to do, being neither priest, nor Levite, nor scribe. Some of the priests (though not as priests) and all the scribes were authorized teachers. By what authority dost thou these things - Publicly teach the people! And drive out those who had our commission to traffic in the outer court? Luke xx, 1; Mark xi, 27.
24. I will ask you one thing - Who have asked me many: The baptism, that is, the whole ministry of John, was it from heaven or from men? - By what authority did he act and teach? Did man or God give him that authority? Was it not God? But if so, the consequence was clear. For John testified that Jesus was the Christ.
25. Why did ye not believe him - Testifying this.
27. Neither tell I you - Not again, in express terms: he had often told them before, and they would not believe him.
30. He answered, I go, sir: but went not - Just so did the scribes and Pharisees: they professed the greatest readiness and zeal in the service of God: but it was bare profession, contradicted by all their actions.
32. John came in a way of righteousness - Walking in it, as well as teaching it. The publicans and harlots - The most notorious sinners were reformed, though at first they said, I will not. And ye seeing the amazing change which was wrought in them, though at first ye said, I go, sir, repented not afterward - Were no more convinced than before. O how is this scripture fulfilled at this day!
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