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The wise ones with understanding have relation to the time of the end, and particular
reference to Israel and the kingdom. Hearing the word, and understanding it, is
characteristic of the final and yet future sowing of the seed of the kingdom, as we have
seen in Matt. 13: 19, 23. This understanding is not necessarily connected with education
or ability of mind, but rather that understanding which comes from a heart acquaintance
with the word of God, and the Lord Himself. Thus the Psalmist could say, "I have more
understanding than all my teachers; for Thy testimonies are my meditation"
(Psa. 119: 99). Those therefore who have such understanding are like a householder, and
only such are here in question.
The word householder is oikodespotes, and occurs twelve times in the New
Testament. Four times it is rendered "goodman of the house," and once "goodman." The
first occurrence is in Matt. 10: 25, and the last in Luke 12: 11. It is bounded by the period
covered by the gospel of the kingdom, and the number of its occurrences, viz., twelve,
also links it with Israel and the kingdom. Such a scribe, such a householder, is said to be
"discipled" into the kingdom of the heavens.
The word "instructed," which we have rendered "discipled," occurs four times in the
N.T., viz., Matt. 13: 52; 27: 57; 28: 19; Acts 14: 21, and is translated "instructed,"
"disciple," "teach." The marginal readings of Matt. 28: 19 and Acts 14: 21 suggest
"make disciples." Matt. 28: 19, 20 looks forward to a future ministry when the sent
ones of the Lord shall "make nations disciples." Matt. 28: says nothing about
preaching the gospel, although many thus misquote it. It speaks of "discipling,"
whatsoever the Lord Jesus had commanded them. They who will be fitted for this
wonderful ministry are before us in this parable. Before they can disciple all nations they
must have been "discipled into the kingdom" themselves; they must be learners. Further,
the parable does not say "every one," but "every scribe." The scribe was one who had to
do with the word of God, the grammateus. No ordinary scribe, however, is here in view.
The teacher must also be the learner. The scribe must also be the disciple. He must have
the wide range of prophetic view as given in these parables of the mysteries of the
kingdom before he can be likened to a householder.
The Scribes in the day of Christ were as degenerate as their fellows the Pharisees, and
against them, equally with the Pharisees, the Lord uttered His solemn woes. Speaking of
the passage, "He taught them as one having authority, and not as the Scribes," a learned
writer (Dean Farrar) says:--
"The teaching of their Scribes was narrow, dogmatical, material; it was cold in
manner, frivolous in matter, second-hand, and iterative in its very essence; with no
freshness in it, no force, no fire; servile to all authority, opposed to all independence, at
once erudite and foolish, at once contemptuous and mean; never passing a hair's breadth
beyond the carefully watched boundary line of commentary and precedent; full of
balanced inference, and orthodox hesitancy, and impossible literalism, intricate with legal
pettiness, and labyrinthine system, elevating mere memory above genius, and repetition
above originality, concerned only about Priests and Pharisees, in Temple and Synagogue,
or School or Sanhedrim, and mostly occupied with things infinitely little. It was not
indeed wholly devoid of moral significance, nor is it impossible to find here and there