Matthew 11 Commentary

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Charts from Jensen's Survey of the NT - used by permission
Another Chart from Swindoll

BY MATTHEW (shaded area)

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Source: Ryrie Study Bible

Matthew 11:1 When Jesus had finished giving instructions to His twelve disciples, He departed from there to teach and preach in their cities.  

NET  Matthew 11:1 When Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in their towns.

GNT  Matthew 11:1 Καὶ ἐγένετο ὅτε ἐτέλεσεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς διατάσσων τοῖς δώδεκα μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ, μετέβη ἐκεῖθεν τοῦ διδάσκειν καὶ κηρύσσειν ἐν ταῖς πόλεσιν αὐτῶν.

NLT  Matthew 11:1 When Jesus had finished giving these instructions to his twelve disciples, he went out to teach and preach in towns throughout the region.

KJV  Matthew 11:1 And it came to pass, when Jesus had made an end of commanding his twelve disciples, he departed thence to teach and to preach in their cities.

ESV  Matthew 11:1 When Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in their cities.

NIV  Matthew 11:1 After Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in the towns of Galilee.

ASV  Matthew 11:1 And it came to pass when Jesus had finished commanding his twelve disciples, he departed thence to teach and preach in their cities.

CSB  Matthew 11:1 When Jesus had finished giving orders to His 12 disciples, He moved on from there to teach and preach in their towns.

NKJ  Matthew 11:1 Now it came to pass, when Jesus finished commanding His twelve disciples, that He departed from there to teach and to preach in their cities.

NRS  Matthew 11:1 Now when Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and proclaim his message in their cities.

YLT  Matthew 11:1 And it came to pass, when Jesus ended directing his twelve disciples, he departed thence to teach and to preach in their cities.

NAB  Matthew 11:1 When Jesus finished giving these commands to his twelve disciples, he went away from that place to teach and to preach in their towns.

NJB  Matthew 11:1 When Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples he moved on from there to teach and preach in their towns.

GWN  Matthew 11:1 After Jesus finished giving his twelve disciples these instructions, he moved on from there to teach his message in their cities.

BBE  Matthew 11:1 And it came about that when Jesus had come to the end of giving these orders to his twelve disciples, he went away from there, teaching and preaching in their towns.

  • Giving instructions - Mt 28:20 Joh 15:10,14 Ac 1:2 10:42 1Th 4:2 2Th 3:6,10 1Ti 6:14 
  • He departed - Mt 4:23 9:35 Isa 61:1-3 Mk 1:38,39 Lu 4:15-21 8:1 Ac 10:38 
  • Matthew 11 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Bob Utley comments that "This chapter has often been described as unrelated stories, but the unifying factor seems to be the answer to the question, “Why was Jesus’ ministry not more outwardly successful? John the Baptist is a central character in this chapter (cf. Jn. 1:6–8, 19–36). He was the last of the Old Testament prophets. Isaiah lists several actions by which the Jews could recognize the Messiah. These are the very actions of Jesus recorded in chapters 8 and 9.”

In Matthew 11 we find that Jesus begins to experience opposition, that those to whom He came did not receive Him (Jn 1:9-11), that the Pharisees and religious leaders began accusations against Him, that His own family members begin to turn against Him as His teaching became more controversial leading to increasing challenges to His authority. Jesus was not beginning to be seen as a threat to the established religious culture of the day. He was not the type of Messiah Israel was expecting, One Who would defeat the Romans and establish His kingdom on the throne of David and restore Israel to its former glory as the head of the nations. And so many in Israel were disappointed and downcast as a result of the crucifixion. This national attitude was summed up by Cleopas on the road to Emmaus when he said to the resurrected Jesus ("their eyes were prevented from recognizing Him" Lk 24:16+) "But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, it is the third day since these things happened." (Lk 24:21+) Think of the disappointment they were now experiencing as were many in Israel. 

THOUGHT - Have you ever been disappointed with Jesus? Did you ever approach Him with a set of expectations, and find that He did not fulfill them? Have you ever felt as if Jesus had let you down? The two disciples on the road to Emmaus felt that way and Jesus rebuked them "And He said to them, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! “Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?” Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures." (Lk 24:25-27) After their eyes were opened they said "They said to one another, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?” (Lk 24:32) Like most of the Jews they had not believed the Old Testament Scriptures that had clearly predicted a Suffering Messiah, but their disappointment had been turned to joy by the truth about Jesus and the glorious hope that was yet to be fulfilled in the future. 

We should not be surprised that most of Israel missed who Jesus really was, for this had been clearly prophesied by Isaiah (740-680 B.C) 

Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?  2 For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, And like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty That we should look upon Him, Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.  3 He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.  (Isaiah 53:1-3+)

Comment - No one should have expected the Messiah to be well-received by His own people at His first coming (Jn 1:9-11+). The Scriptures did not promise He would be well-received the first time and to the contrary promised the very opposite! Interestingly, He will not be "well-received" the Second Coming as He returns as the Stone that crushes all Gentile opposition (Da 2:34. 35+, Da 2:45+, Rev 19:11-15, 16+). He will then establish His Millennial Kingdom and will finally be "well-received!" At that time He will finally fulfill all of the expectations that the Jews had in the first century, but not until then! 

When Jesus had finished giving instructions to His twelve disciples -  Giving instructions means Jesus had just given detailed instruction about what was to be done. This is probably not the best chapter division as verse 1 really concludes chapter 10. In Matthew 10:1 we read that "Jesus summoned His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness." And then after the 12 are named (Mt 10:2-4 - note apparently Judas Iscariot was able to heal as were the other 11), Jesus gives them  the real "Jesus Seminar for Disciples" (contrast the heretical "Jesus Seminar") in Matthew 10:5-41 and now again mentions the twelve disciples. So apparently the twelve went out to minister as instructed. Neither Jesus’ sending the disciples nor their return are mentioned. Robertson writes that "At the end of the tour the apostles come together in Capernaum and tell Jesus all that they had done and that they had taught (Mark 6:30+, cf Lk 9:10+, Lk 10:17+)."

Giving instructions (present tense)(KJV = Commanding) (1299)(diatasso from dia = through  + tasso = order) means literally to arrange thoroughly, to arrange in its proper order, to issue orderly and detailed instructions as to what must be done. Diatasso was a technical word for carrying out laws and sometimes used by military and government officials (cp Acts 18:2+ Lk 3:13+). It was a word that denoted a command given from an authority.  Zodhiates explains that diatasso "is  not simply to command or give an order, but to penetrate into a certain situation. This is suggested by the prep. diá, through or thoroughly, and tasso, to arrange in an orderly manner, e.g., when a person determines the proper arrangement of things or situations, he orders or commands that such arrangements be executed. Note also the derivative tágma (5001), anything arranged in an orderly fashion as a body of troops, a band of soldiers, order, succession of the resurrection as in 1 Cor. 15:23; also the adjective taktós (5002), an arranged or proper day as in Acts 12:21+ referring to the set day in which Herod sat on his speaking platform. This detailed understanding of the basic word tássō and its cognates is necessary if we are to properly understand diatássō not as a mere capricious ordering or commanding and diatage not as an arbitrary commandment, order, ordinance, disposition or appointment, but something that is thought out and proposes orderliness and method. (Complete Word Study Dictionary, NT)" 

Matthew "outlines" his Gospel with this phrase had finished:

  1. (Mt 7:28) When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching;
  2. (Mt 11:1) When Jesus had finished giving instructions to His twelve disciples, He departed from there to teach and preach in their cities. 
  3. (Mt 13:53) When Jesus had finished these parables, He departed from there.
  4. (Mt 19:1) When Jesus had finished these words, He departed from Galilee and came into the region of Judea beyond the Jordan;
  5. (Mt 26:1) When Jesus had finished all these words, He said to His disciples,

He departed from there to teach and preach in their cities - Jesus had just finished teaching the twelve and now goes out to teach the masses.  Teach and preach are both in the present tense indicating this was Jesus continual activity. Jesus gives us the pattern for how to Redeem the Time, the short time we have on earth! Jesus was doing what He had done at the very beginning as described in Mt 4:23+ "Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching (didasko) in their synagogues and proclaiming (kerusso) the Gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people." So while proclaiming frequently refers to the Gospel, in this case the specific content of His proclamation is not stated. In their cities (the cities of Israel) is not further defined so any statement would be conjecture. 

THOUGHT - Matthew Henry applies this passage - Our Divine Redeemer never was weary of his labour of love; and we should not be weary of well-doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not ("Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time (the right time, the right season =  kairos) we will reap if we do not grow weary. 10 So then, while we have opportunity (kairos), let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith." Galatians 6:9-10+. See Redeem the Time; Eph 5:15-16+, Col 4:5-6+). 

Teach (1321)(didasko from dáo= know or teach; English = didactic; see study of related noun didaskalia and the adjective didaktikos) means to provide instruction or information in a formal or informal setting. In the 97 NT uses of didasko the meaning is virtually always to teach or instruct, although the purpose and content of the teaching must be determined from the context. In Scripture to teach means to pass on the truth about the Word of God, the God of the Word and the faith of the saints, with the goal of influencing the understanding and stimulating obedience to the truth taught and resultant Spirit energized transformation and Christ-likeness. The essence of a disciple (mathetes, cp Jesus' clear command in Mt 28:18, 19, 20) in fact is that he or she is a learner, and also a "doer" (cp Jas 1:22+). The teacher teaches and the disciple hears and processes what is heard, so that this truth affects his or her innermost being (i.e., impacting not just the "head" but especially the "heart!"). Ultimately the purpose of didasko is to shape the will of the one taught, to cause it to be conformed to the will of God (cp Ro 12:2+).

Preach (proclaim) (2784) (kerusso or kerysso from kerux/keryx = a herald - one who acts as the medium of the authority of one who proclamation he makes; kerugma = the thing preached or the message) means to proclaim (publicly) or to herald or act as a public crier - the town official who would make a proclamation in a public gathering. Kerusso is used of the public proclamation of the gospel and matters pertaining to it as proclaimed by John the Baptist, Jesus, the apostles and other Christian teachers. Kerusso was used of the official whose duty it was to proclaim loudly and extensively the coming of an earthly king, even as our gospel is to clearly announce the coming of the King of kings and Lord of lords (Rev 19:16+)! The Imperial Herald would enter a town in behalf of the Emperor, and make a public proclamation of the message which his Sovereign ordered him to give, doing so with such formality, gravity, and authority as to emphasize that the message must be heeded! (Think about this in regard to the Gospel of God instead of the decree of a man! cf 1Th 2:13+). He gave the people exactly what the Emperor bade him give, nothing more, nothing less. He did not dare add to the message or take away from it. Should this not be the example and pattern every preacher and teacher of the holy gospel of God seeks and strives to emulate, yea, even doing so with fear and trembling! ("not as pleasing men but God, who examines our hearts" see 1Th 2:4-noteLenski adds that "The point to be noted is that to preach is not to argue, reason, dispute, or convince by intellectual proof, against all of which a keen intellect may bring counterargument. We simply state in public or testify to all men the truth which God bids us state. No argument can assail the truth presented in this announcement or testimony. Men either believe the truth, as all sane men should, or refuse to believe it, as only fools venture to do”.

ILLUSTRATION OF DISAPPOINTMENT WITH GOD - I'll never forget a conversation I had with a woman once, many years ago. She used to work in a place where I worked; and when she found out that I was a Christian, she walked up to me and really let me have it. "I was in to that 'Christianity' stuff once," she said; "but turned away from it, and I'll never return to it again. I want nothing to do with the kind of God you Christians worship. He let me down when I needed Him most." I was shocked; but I had the presence of mind to ask her what she meant. She told me that she had a sister that she loved very much. They were best friends. But she came home one day to the horrible sight of her sister in her room - hanging by the neck at the end of a rope. "If there's a God in heaven," she said - in some of the most bitter tones I think I've ever heard - "then why did He let my sister commit suicide? Why didn't He stop her? If that's your God, then I want nothing to do with Him." I wish I could make a really happy ending out of this story; but I'm afraid I can't. I was still very young in the faith; and I didn't know what to say to this poor woman. But if I could go back in time, I certainly would listen to her pain for a while and weep with her over her loss. I'd ask about her sister's life, and let her share with me what she loved about her. But then - after a whole lot of tender and sympathetic listening; and after affirming her pain and frustration over her loss - I think I'd want to gently let her know that she was mad at Jesus for failing to keep a promise that He never made. She had an unfair expectation of Him. She had expected Him to violate the will of one of her loved ones and to prevent her from ever doing anything harmful to herself. And so, when He didn't do what she apparently expected that He had a duty to do, she became disappointed with Him, grew to resent Him, and finally came to rejected Him....I've heard many such stories. Many times, in one way or another, I've been told, "I've tried trusting Jesus; and I found that He didn't help me. It doesn't work to trust Him." Those kind of stories break my heart. But I have say this with love; the problem is never with Jesus when He disappoints our expectations. The problem is always with us and our expectations of Him. We expected Him to do something that He never said He would do. We expect Him to fulfill our expectations on call. And yet, the plain fact is that He isn't obligated to fulfill the expectations we place on Him. But on the other hand, the more I've gotten to know Him, the more He surprises me. As I have gotten to know Him better, I have found that He isn't always what I expected Him to be. But I have always found that He does everything that He promises to do in a way that exceeds my feeble expectations of Him! (Gregg Allen)

Matthew 11:2 Now when John, while imprisoned, heard of the works of Christ, he sent word by his disciples

NET  Matthew 11:2 Now when John heard in prison about the deeds Christ had done, he sent his disciples to ask a question:

GNT  Matthew 11:2 Ὁ δὲ Ἰωάννης ἀκούσας ἐν τῷ δεσμωτηρίῳ τὰ ἔργα τοῦ Χριστοῦ πέμψας διὰ τῶν μαθητῶν αὐτοῦ

NLT  Matthew 11:2 John the Baptist, who was in prison, heard about all the things the Messiah was doing. So he sent his disciples to ask Jesus,

KJV  Matthew 11:2 Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples,

ESV  Matthew 11:2 Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples

NIV  Matthew 11:2 When John heard in prison what Christ was doing, he sent his disciples

ASV  Matthew 11:2 Now when John heard in the prison the works of the Christ, he sent by his disciples

CSB  Matthew 11:2 When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent a message by his disciples

NKJ  Matthew 11:2 And when John had heard in prison about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples

NRS  Matthew 11:2 When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples

YLT  Matthew 11:2 And John having heard in the prison the works of the Christ, having sent two of his disciples,

NAB  Matthew 11:2 When John heard in prison of the works of the Messiah, he sent his disciples to him

NJB  Matthew 11:2 Now John had heard in prison what Christ was doing and he sent his disciples to ask him,

GWN  Matthew 11:2 When John was in prison, he heard about the things Christ had done. So he sent his disciples

BBE  Matthew 11:2 Now when John had news in prison of the works of the Christ, he sent his disciples

  • Now when John, while imprisoned - Mt 4:12 14:3 Mk 6:17 Lu 3:19 7:18-23  Joh 3:24 
  • he sent word by his disciples - Mt 9:14 Joh 3:25-28 4:1 Ac 19:1-3 
  • Matthew 11 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

David Turner refers to Mt 11:2-13:52 as "Growing Opposition to the Kingdom of Heaven." 

Now when John, while imprisoned, heard of the works of Christ -  The last mention of John was in Mt 4:12 "Now when Jesus heard that John had been taken into custody, He withdrew into Galilee." Matthew explains later "For when Herod had John arrested, he bound him and put him in prison because of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip. For John had been saying to him, “It is not lawful for you to have her.” (Mt 14:3-4) Robertson says John was imprisoned by Herod the prison at "Machaerus east of the Dead Sea which at this time belonged to the rule of Herod Antipas (Jos. Ant. XVIII. v. 2)." The fact that John heard of the works of Christ shows that while it was still a miserable prison, he still had contact with the outside world through his disciples who were allowed to visit him. 

Luke fills in some of the blanks -

The disciples of John reported to him about all these things (JESUS CAUSING A YOUNG MAN WHO WAS DEAD TO COME BACK TO LIFE - Lk 7:12-16+). Summoning two of his disciples, John sent them to the Lord, saying, “Are You the Expected One, or do we look for someone else?” When the men came to Him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to You, to ask, ‘Are You the Expected One, or do we look for someone else?’”  (Lk 7:18-20+)

Keep in mind John had clear experiences with Jesus that warranted his recognition of him as the Messiah. For example, the apostle John writes

John testified saying, “I have seen the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him. 33“I did not recognize Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, ‘He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.’ 34 “I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God.” (John 1:32-34)

Clearly John the Baptist had heard from God and saw with His own eyes testified that Jesus was the Son of God! No believer today could even come close to the SPECIAL REVELATIONS that John received from God. And so Matthew records the event to which John alludes...

Then Jesus arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John, to be baptized by him. 14 But John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?” 15 But Jesus answering said to him, “Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he *permitted Him. 16 After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, 17 and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.” (Mt 3:13-17)

So again notice that John the Baptist SAW and HEARD. In truth what He was privileged to experience was a glorious display of the Trinity, the Father, the Son and the Spirit! One might think how much more evidence would anyone need? 

He sent word by his disciples - Even though some of his disciples left to follow Jesus (Jn 1:35-37ff+), John the Baptist still had disciples and some continued to adhere to his teachings after Pentecost (Acts 19:1-6+). 

Disciples (3101)(mathetes from manthano = to learn which Vine says is "from a root math, indicating thought accompanied by endeavor" English = "mathematics") describes a person who learns from another by instruction, whether formal or informal.  Discipleship includes the idea of one who intentionally learns by inquiry and observation (cf inductive Bible study) and thus mathetes is more than a mere pupil. A mathetes describes an adherent of a teacher. The word mathetes itself does not always include a spiritual connotation (as it does when it describes true disciples of Jesus), and it was used of superficial followers of Jesus (cf one turning point in Jn 6:66).

THOUGHT FOLLOWERS are first and foremost LEARNERS! Dear Follower of Christ, how are you doing? Are you zealously, diligently, actively learning of your Master's ways? Are you growing in grace and knowledge of our Lord ans Savior Jesus Christ? (2 Peter 3:18+) Are you becoming a "smarter sinner" or are you becoming "more like the Savior?" The only way to grow more like Jesus (synonymous with progressive sanctification) is by daily intake of the pure milk of the Word (NOT ADDITIVES, NO DILUTION, NOT DEVOTIONALS, COMMENTARIES, BOOKS ABOUT THEOLOGY BUT THE PURE WORD!) that by it you may grow in respect to salvation (progressive sanctification) (1 Pe 1:2+, cf Mt 4:4+, Lk 4:4+) And by the way, if you find you are not longing like a newborn babe for the pure milk, you need to perform a serious, sober minded personal inventory for things that are impeding your intake. And Peter just happens to have given us a list by which we can perform (under grace) a self-evaluation for he writes "Therefore, putting aside (THROWING OFF LIKE ONE WOULD ODORIFEROUS GARMENTS!) all (HOW MUCH?) malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, (1 Peter 2:1+) In short GROW-THROW-GO -- if you want to GROW, you need to THROW (off sins), and GO (to pure milk)! There is simply NO OTHER WAY to grow spiritually, for as you take in the Word, the Spirit is transforming your inner being with the Word - "But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed (the "divine passive") into the same image (CHRIST) from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit." (2 Cor 3:18+). 

Josephus XVIII - 2. Now some of the Jews thought that the destruction of Herod’s army came from God: and that very justly, as a punishment of what he did against John, that was called the baptist. For Herod slew him [About Feb. A.D. 32.]; who was a good man, and commanded the Jews to exercise virtue; both as to righteousness towards one another, and piety towards God; and so to come to baptism. For that the washing [with water] would be acceptable to him, if they made use of it, not in order to the putting away, [or the remission] of some sins [only,] but for the purification of the body: supposing still that the soul was thoroughly purified before­hand by righteousness. Now when [many] others came in crowds about him; for they were very greatly moved [or pleased] by hearing his words; Herod, who feared lest the great influence John had over the people might put it into his power and inclination to raise rebellion: (for they seemed ready to do anything he should advise:) thought it best, by putting him to death, to prevent any mischief he might cause; and not bring himself into difficulties by sparing a man who might make him repent of it when it would be too late. Accordingly he was sent a prisoner, out of Herod’s suspicious temper, to Macherus; the castle I before mentioned; and was there put to death. Now the Jews had an opinion, that the destruction of this army was sent as a punishment upon Herod; and a mark of God’s displeasure to him.

Matthew 11:3 and said to Him, “Are You the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?”

NET  Matthew 11:3 "Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?"

GNT  Matthew 11:3 εἶπεν αὐτῷ, Σὺ εἶ ὁ ἐρχόμενος ἢ ἕτερον προσδοκῶμεν;

NLT  Matthew 11:3 "Are you the Messiah we've been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?"

KJV  Matthew 11:3 And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?

ESV  Matthew 11:3 and said to him, "Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?"

NIV  Matthew 11:3 to ask him, "Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?"

ASV  Matthew 11:3 and said unto him, Art thou he that cometh, or look we for another?

CSB  Matthew 11:3 and asked Him, "Are You the One who is to come, or should we expect someone else?"

NKJ  Matthew 11:3 and said to Him, "Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?"

NRS  Matthew 11:3 and said to him, "Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?"

YLT  Matthew 11:3 said to him, 'Art thou He who is coming, or for another do we look?'

NAB  Matthew 11:3 with this question, "Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?"

NJB  Matthew 11:3 'Are you the one who is to come, or are we to expect someone else?'

GWN  Matthew 11:3 to ask Jesus, "Are you the one who is coming, or should we look for someone else?"

BBE  Matthew 11:3 To say to him, Are you he who is to come, or are we waiting for another?

  • Are You  - Mt 2:2-6 Ge 3:15 12:3 49:10 Nu 24:17 De 18:15-18 Ps 2:6-12 Ps 110:1-5 Isa 7:14 9:6,7 Jer 23:5,6 Eze 34:23,24 Da 9:24-26 Ho 3:5 Joe 2:28-32 Am 9:11,12 Ob 1:21 Mic 5:2 Zep 3:14-17 Hag 2:7 Zec 9:9 Mal 3:1 4:2  Joh 4:21 7:31,41,42 
  • the Expected One - Mt 21:5,9 Mk 11:9 Lu 19:38 Joh 16:14 12:13 Heb 10:37 
  • Matthew 11 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries


Allen prefaces John's comments writing "At first glance, it seems like a very bad piece of P.R. to have in the Bible! After all, it tells us of how the man who was appointed by God to be the greatest advocate for Jesus in His earthly ministry - a man who, in fact, had been prophesied in the Old Testament Scriptures as the 'forerunner' and 'herald' of our Lord's earthly ministry - expressed a growing sense of disappointment in Him.And yet, the Lord took his doubts seriously; and answered them. And what the Lord told Him in this passage gives encouragement to the rest of us who have those times of doubt - those times when Jesus seems to disappoint us. " (Gregg Allen)

Recall that John had said many things about Jesus as recorded in (Mt. 3:11; Jn 1:15–18, 26, 27, 29–36; Jn 3:28–30).

Hendriksen comments that "As John saw it, the gracious words that fell from the lips of the Savior and the miracles of mercy he performed did not harmonize with the manner in which he, the Baptist, had pictured him before the public. He had presented him as One who had come to punish and destroy (Matt. 3:7, 10; Luke 3:7, 9)....What Christ’s herald missed (SEE THE SCHEMATIC ABOVE), however, was this: he failed to discern that this prophecy of doom would go into fulfilment not now but at Christ’s second coming. He had not seen the present and the future in true perspective." (BNTC-Mt)

and said to Him, “Are You the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?” -  This question leaves no doubt that John the Baptist had a question whether Jesus was actually the long expected Messiah. Expected One (NKJV - "the Coming One") is clearly a designation of the Messiah and is based on Ps 40:7 (Then I said, “Behold, I come; In the scroll of the book it is written of me.) and Ps 118:26 (Blessed is the One who comes in the name of the LORD; We have blessed you from the house of the LORD), especially the second psalm which in the Septuagint (Lxx) translates "one who comes" with ὁ ἐρχόμενος  ("the coming one") which is identical to the Greek in Mt 11:3 for "Expected One" (ὁ ἐρχόμενος). 

MacArthur comments "In the case of John the Baptist, and of countless believers since his time, doubt might better be described as perplexity or confusion. The perplexity dealt with in these verses is the perplexity of a believer, a true child of God and citizen of His kingdom. John was not questioning the truthfulness of God’s Word as revealed in the Old Testament or as revealed to him at the baptism of Jesus. He was rather uncertain about his understanding of those truths. Virtually all the gospel references to doubt pertain to believers rather than to unbelievers; and the kind of questioning John the Baptist experienced concerning Jesus’ identity can only occur in the life of a believer. In that transitional time, before the written revelation of the New Testament, there were many things that seemed unclear and needed explanation and confirmation." (MNTC-Mt)

Louis Barbieri proposes that "John must have thought, If I am Messiah’s forerunner and Jesus is the Messiah, why am I in prison? John needed reassurance and clarification, for he had expected the Messiah to overcome wickedness, judge sin, and bring in His kingdom." (BKC)

We need to remember that not only John the Baptist, the herald of Christ had doubts, but so did the men who were closest to Him, in His presence, witnessing His miracles and wonderful teaching. Here are some examples...

(Mt 8:26) (See context Mt 8:24) He said to them, “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?” Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and it became perfectly calm.

(Mt 14:31) Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him (PETER - see Mt 14:29, 30), and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”

(Mt 21:21) And Jesus answered and said to them, “Truly I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ it will happen.

(Mt 28:17) (EVEN POST-RESURRECTION) When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful.

(Mk 11:23) “Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him.

(Mk 16:11) When they (HIS OWN DISCIPLES TO WHOM HE TAUGHT HE WOULD RISE FROM THE DEAD IN 3 DAYS!) heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they refused to believe it

(Lk 12:28+) “But if God so clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you? You men of little faith!

MESSIAH THE EXPECTED ONE: The anticipation of national deliverance through a Man anointed by God has been a theme of Judaism throughout the ages, even as many first century Jews were “eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel…looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem” (Lk 2:25,38). John the Baptist asked the question every pious Jew had been asking for centuries “Are You the Expected One?” (Mt 11:3, Lk 7:19-20), which is another way of asking “Jesus, Are You the Messiah, the Anointed One, the Deliverer?” The 12th article of the orthodox Jewish creed says “I believe with a perfect faith in the coming of the Messiah, and though He tarry, yet will I wait daily for His coming.” (Rambam) The first century Jews expected a conquering king who would free them from Rome, but instead this Messiah died a shameful death on a Roman cross. And so there was great disappointment because Jesus did not appear to be the Expected One. Have you ever been discouraged because someone in whom you placed your hope let you down?” Then you can identify with the two disciples who walked on the dusty road to Emmaus and were joined by a resurrected Stranger whose identity was veiled. Jesus saw they were “looking sad” for they “were hoping that (Jesus) was (the Messiah) Who was going to redeem Israel.” (Lk 24:17, 21) Had not Zacharias said that “the Lord God of Israel…(had) visited us and accomplished redemption (paid the ransom to effect deliverance) for His people?” (Lk 1:68) And yet Israel was still in Rome’s grip, a grip “as strong as iron!” (Da 2:40–note) Against this backdrop of hopelessness and despair began the greatest Bible lesson ever taught, for the Teacher, the Messiah, “beginning with Moses (Pentateuch – Genesis to Deut) and all the Prophets explained to them what was said in ALL the (OT) Scriptures concerning Himself.” (Luke 24:27, cp Jn 5:39, Lk 16:29-31)

And so Messiah gave hope to these downcast disciples explaining that the woman’s SEED (Messiah) would have His heel bruised but would crush the head of the serpent (Ge 3:15 – the protoevangelium = the “first Gospel,” cp Heb 2:14-15–note, Ro 16:20–note). He explained that the prophet Micah had foretold of His birth from the clan of Judah in Bethlehem Ephrathah (Micah 5:2–note). He explained that 500 years earlier Daniel had predicted the exact time of His arrival as “Messiah the Prince” (Da 9:25NASB–note) and that He would not conquer but “be cut off” (crucified) (Da 9:26–note). In fact 60 major messianic prophecies with 270 ramifications (Jewish rabbis saw up to 456 messianic allusions!) were inspired by the Spirit so that there would be absolutely no doubt to OT readers that the Man Jesus was truly the long expected Messiah. Sadly, first century Jews were looking for Messiah to be a conquering King, not a suffering Servant and as a result most failed to recognize Him as God’s “Wonderful” One (Isaiah 9:6–note) because they missed Isaiah’s later prediction that He would be “despised, forsaken of men, a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief…stricken, smitten of God, afflicted…and pierced through for our transgressions…crushed for our iniquities…by His stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:3-5) In His first coming Messiah came as a King riding a donkey to conquer sin (Zech 9:9, Mt 21:4-5), but in His second coming He will return as King of kings riding on a white horse to conquer sinful men (Rev 19:11-16–note)! “Born Thy people to deliver, born a Child and yet a King; born to reign in us forever, now Thy gracious Kingdom bring.” (C Wesley)

Matthew 11:4 Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and report to John what you hear and see:

NET  Matthew 11:4 Jesus answered them, "Go tell John what you hear and see:

GNT  Matthew 11:4 καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς, Πορευθέντες ἀπαγγείλατε Ἰωάννῃ ἃ ἀκούετε καὶ βλέπετε·

NLT  Matthew 11:4 Jesus told them, "Go back to John and tell him what you have heard and seen--

KJV  Matthew 11:4 Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see:

ESV  Matthew 11:4 And Jesus answered them, "Go and tell John what you hear and see:

NIV  Matthew 11:4 Jesus replied, "Go back and report to John what you hear and see:

ASV  Matthew 11:4 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and tell John the things which ye hear and see:

CSB  Matthew 11:4 Jesus replied to them, "Go and report to John what you hear and see:

NKJ  Matthew 11:4 Jesus answered and said to them, "Go and tell John the things which you hear and see:

NRS  Matthew 11:4 Jesus answered them, "Go and tell John what you hear and see:

YLT  Matthew 11:4 And Jesus answering said to them, 'Having gone, declare to John the things that ye hear and see,

NAB  Matthew 11:4 Jesus said to them in reply, "Go and tell John what you hear and see:

NJB  Matthew 11:4 Jesus answered, 'Go back and tell John what you hear and see;

GWN  Matthew 11:4 Jesus answered John's disciples, "Go back, and tell John what you hear and see:

BBE  Matthew 11:4 And Jesus, answering, said to them, Go and give news to John of the things which you are seeing and hearing:

Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and report to John what you hear and see - Luke tells us "At that very time He cured many people of diseases and afflictions and evil spirits; and He gave sight to many who were blind." (Lk 7:21+). 

Matthew 11:5 the BLIND RECEIVE SIGHT and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the POOR HAVE THE GOSPEL PREACHED TO THEM.

NET  Matthew 11:5 The blind see, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news proclaimed to them.

GNT  Matthew 11:5 τυφλοὶ ἀναβλέπουσιν καὶ χωλοὶ περιπατοῦσιν, λεπροὶ καθαρίζονται καὶ κωφοὶ ἀκούουσιν, καὶ νεκροὶ ἐγείρονται καὶ πτωχοὶ εὐαγγελίζονται·

NLT  Matthew 11:5 the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.

KJV  Matthew 11:5 The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.

ESV  Matthew 11:5 the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them.

NIV  Matthew 11:5 The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.

ASV  Matthew 11:5 the blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good tidings preached to them.

CSB  Matthew 11:5 the blind see, the lame walk, those with skin diseases are healed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor are told the good news.

NKJ  Matthew 11:5 "The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them.

NRS  Matthew 11:5 the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them.

YLT  Matthew 11:5 blind receive sight, and lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and deaf hear, dead are raised, and poor have good news proclaimed,

NAB  Matthew 11:5 the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.

NJB  Matthew 11:5 the blind see again, and the lame walk, those suffering from virulent skin-diseases are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life and the good news is proclaimed to the poor;

GWN  Matthew 11:5 Blind people see again, lame people are walking, those with skin diseases are made clean, deaf people hear again, dead people are brought back to life, and poor people hear the Good News.

BBE  Matthew 11:5 The blind see; those who were not able to, are walking; lepers are made clean; those who were without hearing, now have their ears open; the dead come to life again, and the poor have the good news given to them.

  • blind - Mt 9:30 Ps 146:8 Isa 29:18 35:4-6 42:6,7 Lu 4:18 7:21,22 Joh 2:23 3:2 5:36 10:25,38 14:11,12 Ac 2:22 4:9,10 
  • the lame - Mt 15:30,31 21:14 Ac 3:2-8 14:8-10 
  • the lepers - Mt 8:1-4 10:8 2Ki 5:7,14 
  • the deaf - Isa 43:8 Mk 7:37 9:25 
  • the dead - Mt 9:24,25 Lu 7:14-16,22  Joh 11:43,44 
  • the poor - Mt 5:3 Ps 22:26 72:12,13 Isa 61:1-3 66:2 Zec 11:7 Lu 4:18 Jas 2:5 
  • Matthew 11 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

the BLIND RECEIVE SIGHT and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the POOR HAVE THE GOSPEL PREACHED TO THEM.

Matthew 11:6 “And blessed is he who does not take offense at Me.”

NET  Matthew 11:6 Blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me."

GNT  Matthew 11:6 καὶ μακάριός ἐστιν ὃς ἐὰν μὴ σκανδαλισθῇ ἐν ἐμοί.

NLT  Matthew 11:6 And tell him, 'God blesses those who do not turn away because of me. ' "

KJV  Matthew 11:6 And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.

ESV  Matthew 11:6 And blessed is the one who is not offended by me."

NIV  Matthew 11:6 Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me."

ASV  Matthew 11:6 And blessed is he, whosoever shall find no occasion of stumbling in me.

CSB  Matthew 11:6 And if anyone is not offended because of Me, he is blessed."

NKJ  Matthew 11:6 "And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me."

NRS  Matthew 11:6 And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me."

YLT  Matthew 11:6 and happy is he who may not be stumbled in me.'

NAB  Matthew 11:6 And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me."

NJB  Matthew 11:6 and blessed is anyone who does not find me a cause of falling.'

GWN  Matthew 11:6 Whoever doesn't lose his faith in me is indeed blessed."

BBE  Matthew 11:6 And a blessing will be on him who has no doubts about me.

  • blessed - Mt 5:3-12 Ps 1:1,2 32:1,2 119:1 Lu 11:27,28 
  • whosoever - Mt 13:55-57 15:12-14 18:7 24:10 26:31 Isa 8:14,15 Lu 2:34 Lu 4:23-29 Joh 6:60,61,66 7:41,42 Ro 9:32,33 1Co 1:22,23 2:14 Ga 5:11 1Pe 2:8 
  • Matthew 11 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

And blessed is he who does not take offense at Me 

Matthew 11:7 As these men were going away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John, “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind?

NET  Matthew 11:7 While they were going away, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: "What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind?

GNT  Matthew 11:7 Τούτων δὲ πορευομένων ἤρξατο ὁ Ἰησοῦς λέγειν τοῖς ὄχλοις περὶ Ἰωάννου, Τί ἐξήλθατε εἰς τὴν ἔρημον θεάσασθαι; κάλαμον ὑπὸ ἀνέμου σαλευόμενον;

NLT  Matthew 11:7 As John's disciples were leaving, Jesus began talking about him to the crowds. "What kind of man did you go into the wilderness to see? Was he a weak reed, swayed by every breath of wind?

KJV  Matthew 11:7 And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind?

ESV  Matthew 11:7 As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: "What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind?

NIV  Matthew 11:7 As John's disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: "What did you go out into the desert to see? A reed swayed by the wind?

ASV  Matthew 11:7 And as these went their way, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to behold? a reed shaken with the wind?

CSB  Matthew 11:7 As these men went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: "What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swaying in the wind?

NKJ  Matthew 11:7 As they departed, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John: "What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind?

NRS  Matthew 11:7 As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: "What did you go out into the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken by the wind?

YLT  Matthew 11:7 And as they are going, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John, 'What went ye out to the wilderness to view? -- a reed shaken by the wind?

NAB  Matthew 11:7 As they were going off, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John, "What did you go out to the desert to see? A reed swayed by the wind?

NJB  Matthew 11:7 As the men were leaving, Jesus began to talk to the people about John, 'What did you go out into the desert to see? A reed swaying in the breeze? No?

GWN  Matthew 11:7 As they were leaving, Jesus spoke to the crowds about John. "What did you go into the desert to see? Tall grass swaying in the wind?

BBE  Matthew 11:7 And when they were going away, Jesus, talking of John, said to all the people, What went you out into the waste land to see? a tall stem moving in the wind?

  • Jesus - Lu 7:24-30 
  • What - Mt 3:1-3,5 21:25 Mk 1:3-5 Lu 3:3-7 8:18 Joh 1:38 5:35 
  • A reed - Ge 49:4 2Co 1:17,18 Eph 4:14 Jas 1:6
  • Matthew 11 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

As these men were going away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John

What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind?

Matthew 11:8 “But what did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ palaces!

NET  Matthew 11:8 What did you go out to see? A man dressed in fancy clothes? Look, those who wear fancy clothes are in the homes of kings!

GNT  Matthew 11:8 ἀλλὰ τί ἐξήλθατε ἰδεῖν; ἄνθρωπον ἐν μαλακοῖς ἠμφιεσμένον; ἰδοὺ οἱ τὰ μαλακὰ φοροῦντες ἐν τοῖς οἴκοις τῶν βασιλέων εἰσίν.

NLT  Matthew 11:8 Or were you expecting to see a man dressed in expensive clothes? No, people with expensive clothes live in palaces.

KJV  Matthew 11:8 But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings' houses.

ESV  Matthew 11:8 What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who wear soft clothing are in kings' houses.

NIV  Matthew 11:8 If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings' palaces.

ASV  Matthew 11:8 But what went ye out to see? a man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, they that wear soft raiment are in king's houses.

CSB  Matthew 11:8 What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothes? Look, those who wear soft clothes are in kings' palaces.

NKJ  Matthew 11:8 "But what did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft garments? Indeed, those who wear soft clothing are in kings' houses.

NRS  Matthew 11:8 What then did you go out to see? Someone dressed in soft robes? Look, those who wear soft robes are in royal palaces.

YLT  Matthew 11:8 'But what went ye out to see? -- a man clothed in soft garments? lo, those wearing the soft things are in the kings' houses.

NAB  Matthew 11:8 Then what did you go out to see? Someone dressed in fine clothing? Those who wear fine clothing are in royal palaces.

NJB  Matthew 11:8 Then what did you go out to see? A man wearing fine clothes? Look, those who wear fine clothes are to be found in palaces.

GWN  Matthew 11:8 Really, what did you go to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? Those who wear fine clothes are in royal palaces.

BBE  Matthew 11:8 But what went you out to see? a man delicately clothed? Those who have fair robes are in kings' houses.

  • A man - Mt 3:4 2Ki 1:8 Isa 20:2 Zec 13:4 1Co 4:11 2Co 11:27 Rev 11:3 
  • Matthew 11 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

But what did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ palaces

Matthew 11:9 “But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and one who is more than a prophet.

NET  Matthew 11:9 What did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.

GNT  Matthew 11:9 ἀλλὰ τί ἐξήλθατε ἰδεῖν; προφήτην; ναὶ λέγω ὑμῖν, καὶ περισσότερον προφήτου.

NLT  Matthew 11:9 Were you looking for a prophet? Yes, and he is more than a prophet.

KJV  Matthew 11:9 But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet.

ESV  Matthew 11:9 What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.

NIV  Matthew 11:9 Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.

ASV  Matthew 11:9 But wherefore went ye out? to see a prophet? Yea, I say unto you, and much more than a prophet.

CSB  Matthew 11:9 But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and far more than a prophet.

NKJ  Matthew 11:9 "But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I say to you, and more than a prophet.

NRS  Matthew 11:9 What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.

YLT  Matthew 11:9 'But what went ye out to see? -- a prophet? yes, I say to you, and more than a prophet,

NAB  Matthew 11:9 Then why did you go out? To see a prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.

NJB  Matthew 11:9 Then what did you go out for? To see a prophet? Yes, I tell you, and much more than a prophet:

GWN  Matthew 11:9 "Really, what did you go to see? A prophet? Let me tell you that he is far more than a prophet.

BBE  Matthew 11:9 But why did you go out? to see a prophet? Yes, I say to you, and more than a prophet.

  • A prophet - Mt 11:13,14 14:5 17:12,13 21:24-26 Mk 9:11-13 Lu 1:15-17,76 
  • Matthew 11 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and one who is more than a prophet

Matthew 11:10 “This is the one about whom it is written, ‘BEHOLD, I SEND MY MESSENGER AHEAD OF YOU, WHO WILL PREPARE YOUR WAY BEFORE YOU.’  

NET  Matthew 11:10 This is the one about whom it is written: 'Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.'

GNT  Matthew 11:10 οὗτός ἐστιν περὶ οὗ γέγραπται, Ἰδοὺ ἐγὼ ἀποστέλλω τὸν ἄγγελόν μου πρὸ προσώπου σου, ὃς κατασκευάσει τὴν ὁδόν σου ἔμπροσθέν σου.

NLT  Matthew 11:10 John is the man to whom the Scriptures refer when they say, 'Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, and he will prepare your way before you.'

KJV  Matthew 11:10 For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.

ESV  Matthew 11:10 This is he of whom it is written, "'Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you.'

NIV  Matthew 11:10 This is the one about whom it is written: " 'I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.'

ASV  Matthew 11:10 This is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, Who shall prepare thy way before thee.

CSB  Matthew 11:10 This is the one it is written about: Look, I am sending My messenger ahead of You; he will prepare Your way before You.

NKJ  Matthew 11:10 "For this is he of whom it is written:`Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, Who will prepare Your way before You.'

NRS  Matthew 11:10 This is the one about whom it is written, 'See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.'

YLT  Matthew 11:10 for this is he of whom it hath been written, Lo, I do send My messenger before thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee.

NAB  Matthew 11:10 This is the one about whom it is written: 'Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way before you.'

NJB  Matthew 11:10 he is the one of whom scripture says: Look, I am going to send my messenger in front of you to prepare your way before you.

GWN  Matthew 11:10 John is the one about whom Scripture says, 'I'm sending my messenger ahead of you to prepare the way in front of you.'

BBE  Matthew 11:10 This is he of whom it has been said, See, I send my servant before your face, who will make ready your way before you.

  • Mt 3:3 Isa 40:3 Mal 3:1 4:5 Mk 1:2 Lu 7:26,27 Joh 1:23 
  • Matthew 11 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries


Matthew 11:11 “Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist! Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

NET  Matthew 11:11 "I tell you the truth, among those born of women, no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he is.

GNT  Matthew 11:11 ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν· οὐκ ἐγήγερται ἐν γεννητοῖς γυναικῶν μείζων Ἰωάννου τοῦ βαπτιστοῦ· ὁ δὲ μικρότερος ἐν τῇ βασιλείᾳ τῶν οὐρανῶν μείζων αὐτοῦ ἐστιν.

NLT  Matthew 11:11 "I tell you the truth, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John the Baptist. Yet even the least person in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he is!

KJV  Matthew 11:11 Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

ESV  Matthew 11:11 Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

NIV  Matthew 11:11 I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

ASV  Matthew 11:11 Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not arisen a greater than John the Baptist: yet he that is but little in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

CSB  Matthew 11:11 " I assure you: Among those born of women no one greater than John the Baptist has appeared, but the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

NKJ  Matthew 11:11 "Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

NRS  Matthew 11:11 Truly I tell you, among those born of women no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

YLT  Matthew 11:11 Verily I say to you, there hath not risen, among those born of women, a greater than John the Baptist, but he who is least in the reign of the heavens is greater than he.

NAB  Matthew 11:11 Amen, I say to you, among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

NJB  Matthew 11:11 'In truth I tell you, of all the children born to women, there has never been anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of Heaven is greater than he.

GWN  Matthew 11:11 "I can guarantee this truth: Of all the people ever born, no one is greater than John the Baptizer. Yet, the least important person in the kingdom of heaven is greater than John.

BBE  Matthew 11:11 Truly I say to you, Among the sons of women there has not been a greater than John the Baptist: but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

  • born - Job 14:1,4 15:14 25:4 Ps 51:5 Eph 2:3 
  • a greater - Mt 3:11 1Sa 2:30 Lu 1:15 7:28 Joh 5:35 
  • he that - Mt 5:19 Isa 30:26 Zec 12:8 Lu 9:48 Joh 1:15,27 3:30 1Co 6:4 1Co 15:9 Eph 3:8 
  • greater - Joh 7:39 10:41 Ro 16:25,26 Col 1:26,27 2Ti 1:10 Heb 11:40 1Pe 1:10 
  • Matthew 11 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist!

What an encouraging passage this is. Why so? If the greatest man to ever live up to that time had doubts about Jesus, then every believer can take comfort in his doubting! In other words, doubting does not mean we are lesser disciples because we doubt. 

Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he

Matthew 11:12 “From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force.

  • from - Mt 21:23-32 Lu 7:29,30 13:24 16:16 Joh 6:27 Eph 6:11-13 Php 2:12 
  • Matthew 11 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Matthew 11:13 “For all the prophets and the Law prophesied until John.

  • Mt 5:17,18 Mal 4:6 Lu 24:27,44 Joh 5:46,47 Ac 3:22-24 13:27 Ro 3:21 
  • Matthew 11 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Matthew 11:14 “And if you are willing to accept it, John himself is Elijah who was to come. 

  • if - Eze 2:5 3:10,11  Joh 16:12 1Co 3:2 
  • this - Mt 17:10-13 Mal 4:5 Mk 9:11-13 Lu 1:17 Joh 1:21-23 Rev 20:4 
  • Matthew 11 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Matthew 11:15 “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.  

  • Mt 13:9,43 Mk 4:9,23 7:16 Lu 8:8 Rev 2:7,11,17,29 3:6,13,22 
  • Matthew 11 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Matthew 11:16 “But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market places, who call out to the other children,

  • whereunto - La 2:13 Mk 4:30 Lu 13:18 
  • this - Mt 12:34 23:36 24:34 
  • It is - Lu 7:31-35 
  • Matthew 11 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Matthew 11:17 and say, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’

  • We - Isa 28:9-13 1Co 9:19-23 
  • piped - Mt 9:15,23 1Ki 1:40 Isa 30:29 Jer 9:17-20 31:4 Lu 15:25 
  • Matthew 11 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Matthew 11:18 “For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon!’

  • John - Mt 3:4 Jer 15:17 16:8,9 Lu 1:15 1Co 9:27 
  • He - Mt 10:25 2Ki 9:11 Jer 29:26 Ho 9:7 Joh 7:20 8:48 10:20 Ac 26:24
  • Matthew 11 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Matthew 11:19 “The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.”

  • came - Lu 5:29,30 7:34,36 14:1  Joh 2:2 12:2-8 Ro 15:2 
  • a friend - Mt 9:10,11 Lu 15:1,2 19:7 
  • But - Ps 92:5,6 Pr 17:24 Lu 7:29,35 1Co 1:24-29 Eph 3:8-10 Rev 5:11-14 7:12 
  • Matthew 11 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Matthew 11:20 Then He began to denounce the cities in which most of His miracles were done, because they did not repent.

  • began - Lu 10:13-15 
  • upbraid - Ps 81:11-13 Isa 1:2-5 Mic 6:1-5 Mk 9:19 16:14 Jas 1:5 
  • because - Mt 12:41 21:28-32 Jer 8:6 Ac 17:20 2Ti 2:25,26 Rev 2:21 9:20,21 Rev 16:9,11 
  • Matthew 11 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Matthew 11:21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.

  • Woe - Mt 18:7 23:13-29 26:24 Jer 13:27 Lu 11:42-52 Jude 1:11 
  • Bethsaida - Mk 6:45 8:22 Lu 9:10 Joh 1:44 12:21 
  • for - Mt 12:41,42 Eze 3:6,7 Ac 13:44-48 28:25-28 
  • repented - Job 42:6 Joh 3:5-10 
  • Matthew 11 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Matthew 11:22 “Nevertheless I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you.

  • It shall - Mt 11:24 10:15 Lu 10:14 12:47,48 Heb 2:3 6:4-8 10:26-31 
  • Tyre - Isa 23:1-18 Jer 25:22 27:3 Eze 26:1-28:26 29:18 Am 1:9,10 Zec 9:2,3 
  • the day - Mt 12:36 2Pe 2:9 3:7 1Jn 4:17
  • Matthew 11 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Matthew 11:23 “And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You will descend to Hades; for if the miracles had occurred in Sodom which occurred in you, it would have remained to this day.

  • Capernaum - Mt 4:13 8:5 17:24 Lu 4:23  Joh 4:46-54 
  • which art - Isa 14:13-15 La 2:1 Eze 28:12-19 31:16,17 Ob 1:4 Lu 14:11 2Pe 2:4-9 
  • in Sodom - Ge 13:13 19:24,25 Eze 16:48-50 Jude 1:7 Rev 11:8 
  • Matthew 11 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Matthew 11:24 “Nevertheless I say to you that it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you.”

  • more - Mt 11:22 10:15 La 4:6 Mk 6:11 Lu 10:12 
  • Matthew 11 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Matthew 11:25 At that time Jesus said, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants.

  • Jesus - Lu 10:21-24 
  • I thank - 1Ch 29:13 Da 2:23  Joh 11:41 2Th 2:13,14 
  • Lord - Ge 14:19,22 De 10:14,15 2Ki 19:15 Isa 66:1 Da 4:35 Ac 17:24 
  • because - Mt 13:11-16 Isa 5:21 29:10-14,18,19 Mk 4:10-12  Joh 7:48,49 Joh 9:39-41 12:38-40 Ro 11:8-10 1Co 1:18-29 2:6-8 3:18-20 2Co 3:14 4:3-6 
  • and hast - Mt 16:17 18:3,4 21:16 1Sa 2:18 3:4-21 Ps 8:2 Jer 1:5-8 Mk 10:14-16 1Co 1:27 
  • Matthew 11 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Matthew 11:26 “Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight.

  • for - Job 33:13 Isa 46:10 Lu 10:21 Ro 9:18 11:33-36 Eph 1:9,11 3:11 2Ti 1:9 
  • Matthew 11 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Matthew 11:27 “All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.  

  • are - Mt 28:18 Joh 3:35 5:21-29 13:3 17:2 1Co 15:25-27 Eph 1:20-23 Php 2:10,11 Heb 2:8-10 1Pe 3:22 
  • no man - Lu 10:22  Joh 10:15 
  • neither - Joh 1:18 6:46 10:15 14:6-9 17:2,3,6,25,26 1Jn 2:23 5:19,20 2Jn 1:9 

Matthew 11:28 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.

Greek: Deute (imperative) pros me pantes hoi kopiontes (2PPAP) kai pephortismenoi, (2PRPP) kago anapauso (1SFAI) humas. 

Amplified: Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.]  (Amplified Bible - Lockman)

Barclay: Come to me, all you who are exhausted and weighted down beneath your burdens, and I will give you rest. (Westminster Press)

ESV: Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 

NLT: Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.  (NLT - Tyndale House)

Phillips: Come to me, all of you who are weary and over-burdened, and I will give you rest! (Phillips: Touchstone)

Wuest: Come here to me, all who are growing weary to the point of exhaustion, and who have been loaded with burdens and are bending beneath their weight, and I alone will cause you to cease from your labor and take away your burdens and thus refresh you with rest.

Young's Literal: 'Come unto me, all ye labouring and burdened ones, and I will give you rest, 

COME TO ME ALL WHO ARE WEARY AND HEAVY-LADEN AND I WILL GIVE YOU REST: Deute (imperative) pros me pantes hoi kopiontes (2PPAP) kai pephortismenoi, (2PRPP) kago anapauso (1SFAI) humas:

  • Come: Isa 45:22-25 53:2,3 55:1-3 Jn 6:37 7:37 Rev 22:17
  • All: Mt 23:4 Ge 3:17-19 Job 5:7 14:1 Ps 32:4 38:4 90:7-10 Eccl 1:8,14 2:22,23 4:8 Isa 1:4 61:3 66:2 Mic 6:6-8 Ac 15:10 Ro 7:22-25 Gal 5:1
  • And I will give you rest:: Mt 11:29 Ps 94:13 116:7 Isa 11:10 28:12 48:17,18 Jer 6:16 2Th 1:7 Heb 4:1
  • Matthew 11 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

J H Jowett wisely wrote that...

This exquisite passage is like a flower which one is almost afraid to touch, lest he should spoil the delicate bloom. Yet to disturb the flower may awake a fragrance and distribute it to others.

J C Ryle adds that...

There are few texts more striking than this in all the Bible—few that contain so wide and sweeping an invitation—few that hold out so full and comfortable a promise. (Come Unto Me)

Indeed, as I began to compile the notes on this great passage, it became obvious to me that the simple words of Jesus were so profound that an entire book, even a library of books, could not exhaust their meaning. C H Spurgeon delivered at least 12 sermons on Mt 11:28-30 and yet said that one could not preach too often on these passages! Spurgeon also wrote that...

there are mines of instruction here. Superficially read, this royal promise has cheered and encouraged tens of thousands, but there is a wealth in it which the diligent digger and miner shall alone discover. Its shallows are cool and refreshing for the lambs, but in its depths are pearls for which we hope to dive.

And so the following comments are meant only to give you food for thought as you ponder these great words of our Savior. Let me strongly encourage you to treasure Jesus' words in Matthew 11:28-30 in your heart (Memorize His Word), so that you will be able to meditate on them (Meditation) and allow your Teacher the Holy Spirit to minister deeply to your soul. You will not be disappointed.


Come! The greatest invitation that ever issued from a Man's lips. "Come!" Come the first time to salvation (Justification). In the context of Jesus' preceding words in Matthew 11, this is the primary interpretation of His call to come...


Come, Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy
written by Joseph Hart
(Sung by Fernando Ortega & Amy Grant)
(Sung by Todd Agnew)

Come, Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy
Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus ready stands to save you,
Full of pity, love and power.

I will arise and go to Jesus,
He will embrace me in His arms;
In the arms of my dear Savior,
O there are ten thousand charms.

Come, ye thirsty, come, and welcome,
God’s free bounty glorify;
True belief and true repentance,
Every grace that brings you nigh

Come, ye weary, heavy laden,
Lost and ruined by the fall;
If you tarry till you’re better,
You will never come at all.

View Him prostrate in the garden;
On the ground your Maker lies.
On the bloody tree behold Him;
Sinner, will this not suffice?

Lo! th’ incarnate God ascended,
Pleads the merit of His blood:
Venture on Him, venture wholly,
Let no other trust intrude.

Let not conscience make you linger,
Not of fitness fondly dream;
All the fitness He requireth
Is to feel your need of Him.

While there must be this initial coming to Jesus for salvation rest, by way of application, there is yet a need for every saint to daily "Come" and allow the Spirit of Christ to grow us in grace and Christlikeness (2Pe 3:18-note) (Sanctification see Three Tenses of Salvation).

And then there will be a final invitation to "Come!" when Jesus invites us to come away to Him (if we pass away before He returns) or to come up to Him (if we are here to experience the Rapture - 1Th 4:17-note) and be with Him forever and ever in the eternal rest of Paradise! (Glorification). "Therefore comfort (present imperative-command to continually encourage) one another with" Jesus' invitation to "Come!". (1Th 4:18-note)

I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say
(Young Boy's Rendition)
I heard the voice of Jesus say,
“Come unto me and rest;
Lay down, thou weary one, lay down
Thy head upon my breast.”

I came to Jesus as I was,
Weary and worn and sad;
I found in Him a RESTING PLACE,
And He has made me glad.
-Horatius Bonar
(Chorale version)

THOUGHT - Dear reader, at whatever stage of your life you find yourself, will you not hear the gracious invitation that falls from His perfect lips?

Will you not come dear struggling sinner, trying to make yourself acceptable to the Holy God?

Will you not come dear struggling saint, trying daily to earn your Father's approval, trying daily to defeat that besetting sin that only the Spirit of Christ can defeat as you learn to cooperate with Him (Ro 8:13-note)?

And dear saint, will you not live in the light of His final call to "Come !", allowing this firm anchor motivate a deep desire for daily purification (1Jn 3:3-note) and growth in likeness to Christ, your Lord?

And here is the great assurance that the One Who calls us to "Come" now will Himself come very soon, a coming for which we pray "Come Lord Jesus"...

He who testifies to these things says,
Yes, I am coming quickly." Amen.
Come, Lord Jesus.
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen
Revelation 22:20, 21
The End!

Come - Not "do this" or "don't do that" but simply "Come". Note also that Jesus does not say come to the church, to a creed, to a clergyman, to a "denomination" or to anything but to Jesus Himself, to a vital, dynamic, radical relationship with the Living Lord. As Oswald Chambers says "Personal contact with Jesus alters everything." Do nothing else but come to Him, for He alone is the way, the truth, the life (Jn 14:6). There is salvation rest in no one else, for there is no other Name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved (the first time and then every day thereafter!). (Acts 4:12) Jesus is the narrow gate, the narrow way that leads to the rest of eternal life (Mt 7:13, 14). Inherent in Jesus' call to come is that the hearer come now and not wait nor procrastinate - when you hear His invitation, that is the day of salvation (cp 2Cor 6:2).

J C Ryle exhorts us "Beloved brethren, see that you refuse not Him who speaks to you this day. If a letter came to you from the ruler of this country you would not despise it. If you were sick, and advice came from a wise physician, you would not reject it. If you were in danger, and counsel came from your best and truest friend, you would not make light of it. Then hear the words that Jesus sends to you this day. Listen to the King of kings. Then body and soul shall be His. (Come Unto Me)

Spurgeon as usual says it well "‘Come’; He drives none away; He calls them to Himself. His favorite word is ‘Come.’ (Ed: "Come" was the call to His first disciples - Mt 4:19YLT) Not, go to Moses – ‘Come unto me.’ To Jesus Himself we must come, (How?) by a personal trust. Not to doctrine, ordinance, nor ministry are we to come first; but to the personal Saviour.

How do we come to Jesus? The most "generic answer" is by faith and trust in Jesus.

Oswald Chambers adds that "The attitude of coming is that the will resolutely lets go of everything and deliberately commits all to Him."

Adam Clarke says "Come to Me" "in the New Covenant implies simply, believing in Christ and becoming His disciple or follower." Are you a follower of Christ? Have you come to Jesus?

William MacDonald elaborates on what it means to "Come" writing that "To come means to believe (Acts 16:31); to receive (John 1:12); to eat (John 6:35); to drink (John 7:37); to look (Isa. 45:22); to confess (1 Jn. 4:2); to hear (John 5:24, 25); to enter a door (John 10:9); to open a door (Rev. 3:20); to touch the hem of His garment (Matt. 9:20, 21); and to accept the gift of eternal life through Christ our Lord (Ro 6:23).

James Smith addresses believers writing that...

All true Christians know Christ—not with a mere theoretical knowledge, which may be obtained from books; but with a knowledge which the Holy Spirit works in the heart. We know Christ . . . in the glory of His person, in the perfection of His work, and in the riches of His wondrous grace. We so know Christ, that He stands out before us, as the chief among ten thousand, and the altogether lovely One. And the more we know Him—the more intimate we wish to become with Him!

We not only know Christ—but we need Him. And the longer we live—the more we need Him. Nor do we merely need Christ, but we need everything in Christ, or that Christ has. We need . . .His blood to cleanse us, His righteousness to clothe us, and His Spirit to sanctify us. We need Christ daily, hourly!

As we need Christ—so we come to Christ. Not once for all, but we continue to come. We must come to Him . . .in every trial, in every trouble, in every conflict, to unburden our minds, to find rest for our souls. We come to Him . . . for wisdom, for strength, for holiness. Much of experimental (experiential) religion consists in coming daily and hourly to Jesus.

Come (1205) (deute) is an adverb which means "Come here!" or "Come on!" in the sense of a command or an exhortation. Deute is used with the plural imperative either expressed or more often understood (as in Mt 11:28). For example in Mt 4:19 Jesus says "Follow Me" or more literally "Come you after me" where the adverb deute functions as an aorist imperative, a command to do this now! Deute is used most often by Jesus - Mt 4:19, 11:28, 19:21, Mt 25:34 (When He reigns as King in the Millennium), Mk 1:17, 6:31, 10:21, 18:22, Jn 11:43 (Call to Lazarus), Jn 21:12 (Post-resurrection invitation to His disciples to eat breakfast). Friberg -- Deute serving as the plural of deuro; adverb; (1) with an imperative following come! come on! come now! (Mt 21.38); (2) absolutely come (Mt 22.4); with opiso come after, follow (Mt 4.19)

Deute - 21x in 21v in the NT - NAS = come(9), come away(1), follow*(2). Matt 4:19; 11:28; 19:21; 21:38; 22:4; 25:34; 28:6; Mark 1:17; 6:31; 10:21; 12:7; Luke 18:22; John 4:29; 11:43; 21:12; Acts 7:3, 34; Rom 1:13; Rev 17:1; 19:17; 21:9.

Deute - 30v in the non-apocryphal Septuagint -Gen. 11:3; Gen. 11:4; Gen. 11:7; Gen. 37:20; Gen. 37:27; Exod. 1:10; Jos. 10:4; Jdg. 9:15; 2 Ki. 1:2; 2 Ki. 1:6; 2 Ki. 6:2; 2 Ki. 6:13; 2 Ki. 6:19; 2 Ki. 7:4; 2 Ki. 7:14; 2 Ki. 22:13; Neh. 2:17; Job 17:10; Ps. 34:11; Ps. 46:8; Ps. 66:5; Ps. 66:16; Ps. 74:8; Ps. 83:4; Ps. 95:1; Ps. 95:6; Isa. 1:18; Isa. 2:3; Isa. 2:5; Isa. 9:10; Isa. 27:11; Isa. 56:9; Jer. 11:19; Jer. 18:18; Jer. 51:10; Dan. 3:26; Dan. 6:5; Jon. 1:7; Mic. 4:2;

Spurgeon outlines Jesus' special invitation...

1. It is personal — “Come unto me.” God directs to Christ, not to His members.

2. It is present — “Come “ now, do not wait.

3. So sweet an invitation demands a spontaneous acceptance.

4. He puts the matter very exclusively. Do nothing else but come to Him.

David Guzik observes that when Jesus commands men and women to "Come unto Me", He demonstrates "His authority...This invitation is unthinkable in the mouth of anyone else but God, and woe to the men who call people to themselves instead of Jesus! (Matthew 11 Commentary)

Oswald Chambers comments on Jesus' invitation to "Come" = When you hear those words you will know that something must happen in you before you can come. The Holy Spirit will show you what you have to do, anything at all that will put the axe at the root of the thing which is preventing you from coming to Jesus. You will never get further until you are willing to do that one thing. The Holy Spirit will locate the one impregnable thing in you, but He cannot budge it unless you are willing to let Him.

All - This Greek word generally means all with no exceptions, and yet in the present context the all is in a sense restricted...restricted by Jesus statement to those humble souls who acknowledge their weariness of struggling with sin. This "all" is God's "all merciful antidote" for the horrible "all" of Ro 3:23 where Paul says "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Jesus is speaking to a Jewish audience but with the "all" He flings opens the gates of salvation to sinners from every tribe, every tongue, every people, every nation! As a Gentile believer, I praise God for this "all" from the lips of the Redeemer of mankind!

J C Ryle expounds on the "all"...

The "laboring and heavy laden" describes all who are pressed down and burdened by a feeling of sin. It describes all whose consciences are set at work, and who are brought to concern about their soul—all who are anxious about salvation, and desire to have it—all who tremble at the thought of judgment, and know not how to get through it, and of hell, and are afraid of falling into it; and long for heaven, and dread not getting to it; and are distressed at the thought of their own sinfulness, and want deliverance. All such people appear to be the laboring and heavy laden to whom Jesus speaks....This was the state of mind in which we see the jailer at Philippi. He was roused from sleep by an earthquake. His fear brought his sin to his remembrance, and he came and fell down before Paul and Silas, and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" This is the state of mind I desire to see in each of you, for the beginning of all saving religion. You will never come to Christ until you feel your need. You ought, everyone, to feel laboring and heavy laden....But to all laboring and heavy laden souls, whoever they may be, to you Jesus speaks—to you is this word of salvation sent. Take heed that it is not in vain. Jesus speaks to ALL such: none are left out. (Come Unto Me)

John Gill - The persons invited are not ‘all’ the inhabitants of mankind, but with a restriction: ‘all ye that labor and are heavy laden,’ meaning not those who labor in the service of sin and Satan, are laden with iniquity and insensible of it: those are not weary of sin nor burdened with it, nor do they want or desire any rest for their souls; but such who groan, being burdened with the guilt of sin on their consciences and are pressed down with the unsupportable yoke of the Law and the load of their trespasses, and have been laboring till they are weary, in order to obtain peace of conscience and rest for their soul by the observance of these things, but in vain. These are encouraged to come to Him, lay down their burdens at His feet and look to Him, and lay hold by faith on His person, blood and righteousness.

Matthew Henry - The character of the persons invited: all that labor and are heavy laden. This is a word in season to him that is weary (Isa. 50:4). Those that complain of the burden of the ceremonial law, which was an intolerable yoke, and was made much more so by the tradition of the elders (Luke 11:46); let them come to Christ and they shall be made easy....But it is rather to be understood of the burden of sin, both the guilt and the power of it. All those, and those only, are invited to rest in Christ that are sensible of sin as a burden and groan under it, that are not only convicted of the evil of sin—their own sin—but are contrite in soul for it; that are really sick of sin, weary of the service of the world and the flesh, that see their state sad and dangerous by reason of sin, and are in pain and fear about it: as Ephraim (Jer. 31:18-20), the prodigal (Luke 15:17), the publican (Luke 18:13), Peter’s hearers (Acts 2:37), Paul (Acts 9), the jailer (Acts 16:29, 30). This is a necessary preparative for pardon and peace”

John Calvin - He now kindly invites to Himself those whom He acknowledges to be fit for becoming His disciples. Though He is ready to reveal the Father to all, yet the great part are careless about coming to Him, because they are not affected by a conviction of their necessities. Hypocrites give themselves no concern about Christ because they are intoxicated with their own righteousness, and neither hunger nor thirst after His grace. Those who are devoted to the world set no value on a heavenly life. It would be vain therefore for Christ to invite either of these classes, and therefore He turns to the wretched and afflicted. He speaks of them as ‘labouring’ or being under a ‘burden,’ and does not mean generally those who are oppressed with griefs and vexations, but those who are overwhelmed by their sins, who are filled with alarm at the wrath of God and are ready to sink under so weighty a burden.

Adam Clarke explains...

The metaphor (all who are weary and heavy laden) appears to be taken from a man who has a great load laid upon him, which he must carry to a certain place: every step he takes reduces his strength, and renders his load the more oppressive. However, it must be carried on; and he labors, uses his utmost exertions, to reach the place where it is to be laid down. A kind person passing by, and, seeing his distress, offers to ease him of his load, that he may enjoy rest.

The Jews, heavily laden with the burdensome rites of the Mosaic institution, rendered still more oppressive by the additions made by the scribes and Pharisees, who, our Lord says, (Mt 23:4) bound on heavy burdens; and laboring, by their observance of the law, to make themselves pleasing to God, are here invited to lay down their load, and receive the salvation procured for them by Christ. (Ed: Are you laboring to make yourself "pleasing to God?" This is a subtle trap into which we all so easily fall because we have been so well trained to be "man pleasers" and think that we can please God in the same manner we have learned to "please" men!)

Sinners, wearied in the ways of iniquity (cp Isa 6:5 Lk 5:8), are also invited to come to this Christ, and find speedy relief (Lk 18:13, 14).

Penitents (those who feel or show sorrow and regret for against the Holy God), burdened with the guilt of their crimes, may come to this Sacrifice, and find instant pardon (cp 1Jn 1:9, Pr 28:13-note).

Believers, sorely tempted, and oppressed by the remains of the carnal mind (the "flesh"), may come to this blood, that cleanses from all unrighteousness; and, purifies from all sin, and powerfully succors (Literally, succor means to run to or run to support; hence that which provides help or relieve when in difficulty, want, distress or suffering) in every temptation (every trial), they shall find uninterrupted rest in this complete Saviour.

All are invited to come, and all are promised rest. If few find rest from sin and vile affections, it is because few come to Christ to receive it. (Comment: How often we refuse to "Come" because we enjoy our sin more than we desire the Savior at that moment. God help us to "Come" quickly to Jesus!)

Note that Jesus directs His call to the heavy burdened, to the weak, not the strong. "He called those who sensed they must come to Him to relieve their need instead of living in self-sufficiency." (Guzik) God is ever opposed to the proud, but stands ready to give abundant grace to the humble of heart. (James 4:6-note) Therefore " Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you." (James 4:10-note)

Jesus' invitation in the New Testament to come and be refreshed recalls Jehovah's offer in the Old Testament to His people to rest in the New Covenant...

For I satisfy the weary ones and refresh everyone who languishes. (Jer 31:25).

Weary and heavy laden - As Jesus said elsewhere it is not the (spiritually) well who need a physician but the (spiritually) sick. Do you even see your need to come to Jesus? As MacDonald says "In order to truly come to Jesus, a person must admit that he is burdened with the weight of sin. Only those who acknowledge they are lost can be saved." As discussed earlier, while Jesus' invitation is especially a call to come to Him for salvation, the call is also applicable to saints who are weary in their struggle to live the Christian life in their own strength.

Are weary (2872)(kopiao from kopos = labor, fatigue) This root word kopos (see word study) is used in secular Greek of “a beating,” “weariness” (as though one had been beaten) and “exertion,” was the proper word for physical tiredness induced by work, exertion or heat. Kopiao means to to exhibit great effort and exertion, to the point of sweat and exhaustion. To physically become worn out, weary or faint. To engage in hard work with the implication of difficulty and trouble. The work described by kopiao was left one so weary it was as if the person had taken a beating. Kopiao describes not so much the actual exertion as the weariness which follows the straining of all one's powers to the utmost. Figuratively kopiao means to become emotionally fatigued and/or discouraged and thus to lose heart and/or give up. The present tense presents the pathetic picture of one who is persistently physically weary and tired, spiritually exhausted, discouraged and ready to "throw in the towel"! Does that describe you dear reader? Then Jesus' words of promised presence and power are perfect for you dear weary one!

John MacArthur - Weary translates a present active participle and refers figuratively to arduous toil in seeking to please God and know the way of salvation. Jesus calls to Himself everyone who is exhausted from trying to find and please God in his own resources. Jesus invites the person who is wearied from his vain search for truth through human wisdom, who is exhausted from trying to earn salvation, and who has despaired of achieving God’s standard of righteousness by his own efforts.

Illustration of Very, Very Weary - The date was August 15, 1930. On that day, a 45-year-old New York State Supreme Court Justice named Joseph Crater, after spending an evening eating out with friends, hailed a taxi and was never seen or heard from again. It remains one of the most mystifying Missing Person cases in FBI files. The FBI immediately suspected a kidnapping by someone who held a judicial grudge against Justice Crater. But that didn’t seem to pan out. They then suspected Mafia activity because Justice Crater was an enemy of the Mafia. But, again, that led nowhere. There is only one clue which remains to this day. When Mrs. Crater returned to their apartment the evening her husband disappeared, there on the table was a large check made out to her and a note attached to the check in her husband’s handwriting which simply said, "I am very, very tired. Love, Joe" Maybe you can relate to Joe Carter– tired and stressed out in life thoughts of Checking out! Maybe you can relate to Joe Carter– tired and stressed out in life thoughts of Checking out! 2% of Americans are regularly dealing with stress –Those most likely to deal with stress are those in their 40’s.

I walked life's path with worry,
Disturbed and quite unblest,
Until I trusted Jesus;
Now faith has given REST.

Spurgeon....expounds on the meaning of weary..."all ye that labor," in whatever form.

In the service of formal religion, in the attempt to keep the law, or in any other way of self-justification.

In the service of self to get gain, honor, ease, etc.

In the service of the world to discover, invent, legislate, etc.

In the service of Satan, lust, drink, infidelity, etc.

J C Philpot on "weary"...

The Lord's purpose in laying burdens upon us is to weary us out. We cannot learn our religion in any other way. We cannot learn it from the Bible, nor from the experience of others. It must be a personal work, wrought in the heart of each; and we must be brought, all of us, if ever we are to find rest in Christ, to be absolutely wearied out of sin and self, and to have no righteousness, goodness, or holiness of our own.

The effect, then, of all spiritual labor is to bring us to this point: to be weary of the world, for we feel it, for the most part, to be a valley of tears; to be weary of self, for it is our greatest plague; weary of professors, for we cannot see in them the grace of God, which alone we prize and value; weary of the profane, for their ungodly conversation only hurts our minds; weary of our bodies, for they are often full of sickness and pain, and always clogs to our soul; and weary of life, for we see the emptiness of those things which to most people make life so agreeable.

By this painful experience we come to this point: to be worn out and wearied; and there we must come, before we can rest entirely on Christ.

As long as we can rest in the world, we shall rest in it. As long as the things of time and sense can gratify us, we shall be gratified in them. As long as we can find anything pleasing in self, we shall be pleased with it. As long as anything visible and tangible can satisfy us, we shall be satisfied with them.

But when we get weary of all things visible, tangible, and sensible—weary of ourselves, and of all things here below—then we want to rest upon Christ, and Christ alone.

Heavy laden (5412) (phortizo from phortos = something carried [Acts 27:10 = freight of a ship], from phero = to bring or carry) means to load or burden with something, to cause someone to carry something, to overburden. Phortizo in a figurative sense describes overburdening someone spiritually (with ceremony, rules, laws, etc).

In the only other NT use Jesus used phortizo to describe the lawyers (prototypical "legalists" in a spiritual sense) placing impossible religious demands on the the people, especially the "burden" of keeping the law.

Luke 11:46 But He said, "Woe to you lawyers as well! For you weigh men down (verb - phortizo) with burdens (noun - phortion) hard to bear, while you yourselves will not even touch the burdens with one of your fingers.

Heavy laden here in Matthew is in the perfect tense which describes a past completed action (at some point they became weary) with ongoing effect (they are still weary). They are pictured as overloaded like beasts of burden.

MacArthur adds that in the passive voice the idea is "that at some time in the past a great load was dumped on the wearied person." He goes to explains that while "weary refers to the internal exhaustion caused by seeking divine truth through human wisdom, heavy-laden suggests the external burdens caused by the futile efforts of works righteousness."

Jesus bore every burden we could never bear, just as prophesied by Isaiah...

Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
And our sorrows He carried;
Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten of God, and afflicted.
Isaiah 53:4

Spurgeon writes that all who are "heavy laden" are called....

Laden heavily because weary, vexed, disappointed; despairing.

Laden with sin, guilt, dread, remorse, fear of death.

Laden with care, anxiety, greed, ambition, etc.

Laden with sorrow, poverty, oppression, slander, etc.

Laden with doubt, temptation, conflict, inner faintness, etc.

James Montgomery Boice explains that "The phrase “weary and burdened” does not refer to physical weaknesses or to what we might call the burdens of a difficult life, though it may include them. It chiefly refers to a sense of sin’s burden and the need of a Savior. The context makes this clear, for the earlier verses describe the rejection of John the Baptist and Jesus by the Jewish masses, followed by the Lord’s denunciation of Korazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum for their failure to repent at Jesus’ preaching. They were not burdened by sin. They were getting along just fine. Still, there were people who were burdened, and these people believed that Jesus could lift sin’s weight and turned to him to do it. These people listened to Him, trusted Him, and found salvation. (The Gospel of Matthew - Baker Books)

I will give you rest - Note that we are not invited to come to a doctrine which is systematic (as good and necessary as that might be), but to a Savior Who is Divine, to the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus Himself is our Rest! Are you learning how to abide in Him, to rest in Him? If not, you will grow weary even of "well doing"! It seems that many of God's children are growing weary of following Jesus, and are being swept away into the bypaths of this technologically tempting, but temporal world system which is headed by Satan (1Jn 5:19). As a result many of God's children are restless ("weary and heavy-laden") and desperately need to hear and heed Jesus' sweet call to "Come" to Him. He will give a rest the world can neither give nor understand!

Paul gives us a clue to how we can learn to abide and shows us the "fruit" of this learning...

Not that I speak from want; for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am (Test question - Do you give thanks in every circumstance? 1Th 5:18 Do you consider it all joy when you encounter various trials? James 1:2. As you practice these disciplines of gratitude and joy, you will come more and more to learn that it is only as you relinquish your "rights", your "power" and rely on the indwelling enabling power of the Holy Spirit that you will begin to learn the secret of the "Christ life".). 12 I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. 13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. (Phil 4:11, 12, 13)

I will give - Rest is a divine gift, but note that Jesus' promise of rest is conditional. It is conditioned on the individual making the personal choice to "Come" at His bidding! He is "gentle and humble in heart" and so He will not coerce or force us to come to Him against our will!

Thomas Brooks writes on "I will give you rest"...

Come,” says Christ, “and I will give you rest.” I will not show you rest, nor barely tell you of rest, but I will give you rest. I am faithfulness itself, and cannot lie, I will give you rest. I who have the greatest power to give it, the greatest will to give it, the greatest right to give it, come, laden sinners, and I will give you rest. Rest is the most desirable good, the most suitable good, and to you the greatest good. Come, says Christ; that is, believe in Me, and I will give you rest; I will give you peace with God, and peace with conscience: I will turn your storm into an everlasting calm; I will give you such rest, that the world can neither give to you nor take from you.

Augustine has a well known quote that relates to the divine rest that Jesus offers...

Lord, Thou madest us for Thyself, and we can find no rest till we find rest in Thee!

Samuel Rutherford wrote

There are many heads resting on Christ’s bosom, but there’s room for yours there.

How blest Thy saints! How safely led!
How surely kept! How richly fed!
Saviour of all in earth and sea,
How happy they who rest in Thee!

-Henry Francis Lyte

Note that this rest is not just any rest, but is rest which is given by Jesus. In Hebrews 4:3 and Hebrews 4:5 the writer quotes God as describing the rest available to believers as "My rest". Therefore this rest is in every sense a divine rest, the rest the Creator Himself enjoys, a rest that is joyous, satisfying and productive, in every sense a supernatural rest. Can you grasp that incredible truth? In a world that is becoming increasingly restless, believers have the invitation to trust in a quality of rest that is literally "other worldly."

Oswald Chambers comments that Jesus says...

"I will give you rest," i.e., I will stay (Ed: Support you from sinking, sustain you with strength) you. Not - I will put you to bed and hold your hand and sing you to sleep; but - I will get you out of bed, out of the languor and exhaustion, out of the state of being half dead while you are alive; I will imbue you with the spirit of life, and you will be stayed by the perfection of vital activity.

David who was often surrounded by tumultuous circumstances (and had learned to rest in the Lord) wrote...

Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him.
Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way,
Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes.
(Psalm 37:7)

Comment: Rest in this psalm is a verb and is in the form of a command for the reader to rest and be quiet in God, which parallels Jesus' command to Come and enter into His blessed rest!

As we have alluded to earlier, every believer enters the rest of justification and that only once, but then every believer must learn to enter His blessed, divine rest daily, yea, even moment by moment. It is available, but it requires a choice to trust Him (see more discussion on this topic below). And so when the circumstances of the day seem too much to bear, we do well to recall that there is always an invitation to share the yoke with One Whose strength never fails and the result is rest for our souls.

Are you learning the secret of daily entering into the Savior's rest
and experiencing His soul calming presence and power?

In light of the preciousness of God's rest, the writer of Hebrews exhorted his readers...

Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall through following the same example of disobedience. (Hebrews 4:11)

Comment: While this passage is referring in context to the rest of salvation (justification), the principle is still applicable to believers to be diligent to enter the rest Jesus provides continually in our journey of sanctification.

Rest (refresh) (373)(anapauo from ana = again, back, or even as intensifying the meaning of the verb + pauo = to cease or give rest) means to cause someone to become physically refreshed as the result of resting from work which is what Jesus did with his disciples in Mark 6:31.Anapauo can also refer to spiritual refreshment or revival which is Jesus' sense here in Mt 11:28.

Related Resource -

  • Rest in the Bible - A good topic to mediate on if you have signs of "spiritual burnout"

Vine writes that

anapauo signifies “to cause or permit one to cease from any labor or movement” so as to recover strength. It implies previous toil and care. Its chief significance is that of taking, or causing to take, rest; it is used in the middle voice in Luke 12:19, “take (thine) ease,” indicative of unnecessary, self-indulgent relaxation. In the papyri it is used technically, as an agricultural term.

Our English word "refresh" means to restore or give new strength or energy to, to invigorate, to relieve after fatigue, to reanimate after depression, to revive what is drooping, to restore or maintain by renewing supply. Each of these nuances could be applied to our spiritual life and the effect of the rest that Jesus gives us when we come to Him. For example, when Jesus refreshes, He restores our strength or gives us new spiritual strength, He relieves our spiritual fatigue, He revives our drooping spirits, etc.

In Jesus' parable of the rich farmer (Lk 12:16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23), He contrasts rest with anxiety about this life and its attendant fear of being without earthly possessions (which usually end up "possessing" the possessor!)...

And I will say to my soul, "Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease (Young's Literal = "be resting"- anapauo is in the present imperative - he is "preaching" to his soul to rest - contrast the "Jesus way" - simply come to Him, take His yoke, learn from Him, then your receive supernatural rest, not the ethereal, fleeting "rest" the world and worldly possessions offer! There is simply no comparison!), eat, drink and be merry."' (Luke 12:19)

In this parable, the "rich man" thought that he could "rest" (take ease) in the fact that he had earthly goods, but Jesus shattered this false hope (for him and for all who trust in earthly possessions) by pointing out that true rest comes from knowing that the Father in heaven cares for us (Lk 12:24, 28, 30, 31) and will provide all we need (cp Php 4:19).

When we're discouraged spiritually
And fear and doubt assail our soul,
We may just need to REST awhile
Before God heals and makes us whole.

Rest for the restless soul is found in the Word, in Jesus the Incarnate Word Who invites us to "Come"...

For thus the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, has said, “In repentance and rest you will be saved, In quietness and trust is your strength.” (Isa. 30:15)

Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus it is He;
Lord Sabaoth His name,
From age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.
Martin Luther

J Vernon McGee in his commentary on the book of Ruth writes that...

This is a rest that only a Godly Redeemer can provide. It is the rest of redemption. After God created the heavens and the earth, Scripture instructs us that He rested. That was a Creation Rest. All was good and complete, and nothing needed to be done to improve it. Then man sinned, and God broke His creation rest. “His ox was in the ditch,” and God began to move to get man out of the ditch of sin. From that day on, God has not rested. Christ said, “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work” (John 5:17). God will not rest until redemption is finished and sin is destroyed....The redemption rest that is provided today for a lost sinner is to cease from his own works and trust his Redeemer-Kinsman to provide his rest. Hebrews 4:9, 10 tells us, "There remains therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from His." This is the rest that comes when we no longer trust our works but receive His work of redemption on the Cross as the penalty for our sins. Furthermore, we are instructed to rest in Him daily and to commit our every problem and difficulty to Him, as Peter wrote, "Casting all your care upon him; for he cares for you" (1Pet 5:7). Only in our great Redeemer is there rest for the restless heart of man from the threshing floor of this world, with its chaff, stubble, and crowd. (Ruth and Esther : Women of faith)

Can you trust God to take care of your needs? There is no rest in this life without trust in His life giving provisions. As believers, those who have experienced the initial reality of resting our restless hearts in Christ, what is the greatest problem we face? Do we believe God can meet it? Can we—will we—trust him? If so, God’s Word, in the present passage, the Incarnate Word Himself, offers rest. Spurgeon said that "Faith is reason at rest in God." The writer of Hebrews said "There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God” (Hebrews 4:9). “Now we who have believed enter that rest” (Hebrews 4:3).

Reality, Reality,
Lord Jesus Christ Thou art to me.

From the spectral mist and the driving clouds,
From the shifting shadows and phantom crowds
From unreal words and unreal lives,
Where truth with falsehood feebly strives:
From the passings away, the chance and change,
Flickerings, vanishings, swift and strange,
I turn to my glorious REST in Thee,
Who art the grand Reality.

—Frances Havergal


James Smith reminds us as believers...

There is no rest for the Christian in this world. There will be always something to disturb, perplex or distress him; it is an enemy's land.

But Jesus says, "I will give you rest." He does so by enabling us to . . .rely on His Word, recognize His hand, submit to His will, and trust in His perfect work.

He assures us . . . that our sins are forgiven; that we are safe in His keeping; that His presence shall always be with us; and that all things shall work together for our eternal good.

We can rest on His faithfulness—for He has been tried, and found faithful.

We can rest on His love—for He loves us to the uttermost.

We can rest on His power—for it is ever engaged on our behalf.

We can rest on His covenant—for it is ordered in all things and sure.

We can rest on His blood—for it speaks peace, pardon, and acceptance with God.

We can rest at His feet—for there we are safe, and can never be injured.

We cannot rest . . . on our graces, on our comforts, on our friends, or on our possessions.

We may rest on Jesus alone.

Return to your rest, O my soul,
For the LORD has dealt bountifully with you.
For Thou hast rescued my soul from death,
My eyes from tears, My feet from stumbling.
Psalm 116:7,8

Spurgeon comments: He calls the rest still his own, and feels full liberty to return to it. What a mercy it is that even if our soul has left its rest for a while we can tell it -- "it is thy rest still." The Psalmist had evidently been somewhat disturbed in mind, his troubles had ruffled his spirit but now with a sense of answered prayer upon him he quiets his soul. He had rested before, for he knew the blessed repose of faith, and therefore he returns to the God who had been the refuge of his soul in former days. Even as a bird flies to its nest, so does his soul fly to his God. Whenever a child of God even for a moment loses his peace of mind, he should be concerned to find it again, not by seeking it in the world or in his own experience, but in the Lord alone. When the believer prays, and the Lord inclines his ear, the road to the old rest is before him, let him not be slow to follow it.

John Newton asks...

HOW is this rest to be obtained? Blessed be God, in that way which alone can render it attainable by such unworthy indigent creatures. If it was to be bought—we have nothing to offer for it. If it was given as a reward of merit—we can do nothing to deserve it. But Jesus has said, "I will give you rest!" Our title to it cost Him dear; He purchased it for us with His own blood; but to us it comes freely. Sincere faith in Jesus puts us in immediate possession of the first-fruits, the pledge of this inheritance; and faith will lead us powerfully and safely, through all hindrances and enemies, to the full enjoyment of the whole.

FAITH unites us to Christ; gives us an immediate interest in all the benefits of His life, death, and intercession; opens the way of communication for all needful supplies of grace here, and insures to us the accomplishment of all the Lord has spoken to us of, in a state of glory. "He who believes shall be saved;" (Mark 16:16) —saved in defiance of all the opposition of earth and hell; saved, notwithstanding he is in himself unstable as water, weak as a bruised reed, and helpless as a newborn babe! What Jesus will give—none can take away. Only remember that it is a free gift. Receive it thankfully—and rejoice in the Giver. Let Him have all the glory of His own undertaking. Renounce every other hope and every other plea—but His promise and mediation. Commit your souls to Him—and then fear nothing. "The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms!" (Dt 33:27) He will fight your battles, heal your wounds, refresh your fainting spirits, guide you by His counsel while here, and at last receive you to Himself! (The Present and Future Rest of True Believers)

Spurgeon's notes on Mt 11:28...

This text is often preached from, but never too often, since the sorrows with which it deals always abound, and the remedy is always effective. This time we purpose to view it from our Lord’s side. He entreats the weary to come to him. He beseeches them to learn of him. He not only receives those who come, but begs them to come. What is this desire which burns in his bosom? And whence comes it?

Let us carefully consider—


1. One who has been rejected, yet he cries “Come unto me.”

2. One whose rejection involves us in fearful guilt, yet he is ready to forgive, and to bestow rest upon us if we come.

3. One who knows his Father’s purpose, but fears not to give a pressing invitation to all who labor and are heavy laden.

4. One who has all power to receive such as come, and to give rest to them all. This is no vain invitation saying more than it means.

5. One who as the Son of God is infinitely blessed, and yet finds new joy in giving rest to poor restless men.


1. Laborers, with more than they can do: disquieted, unhappy. These he calls to himself that he may give them rest, and cause them to find rest.

2. Heavy laden ones, with more than they can bear: oppressed, sorrowful, ready to die.

3. The poor and illiterate who need to be taught.

4. The spiritually burdened, who much need a helping hand, and can only find it in him.


Not his own need of them.

Not their personal worthiness.

Nor aught that they are or can ever be. But,—

1. He has a love to our race.

“My delights were with the sons of men”: Pr 8:31.

He would have these resting with himself.

2. He is himself a man, and knows the needs of men.

3. He has done so much to buy us rest that he would fain give it to us.

4. He delights to do more and more for us: it is his joy to give good things to men.

5. He knows what our ruin will be unless we find rest in him.

6. He knows what our bliss will be if we come unto him.


1. It is very earnest, let us heed it.

2. It is very simple, let the poorest seize upon it.

3. It exactly suits us. Does it not suit you?

4. It is very gracious, let us accept it.

A W Pink asks...

What did our Lord here signify, when He bade all the weary and heavy laden to come unto Him?

It is quite evident that coming to Christ is something more than a physical act. Coming to Christ in the sense He here invited, is a going out of the soul after Him, a desire for Him, a seeking after Him, a personal embracing of and trusting in Him. It is the heart turning from the love of sin—to the love of holiness; from Self—to the Savior!

A saving coming to Christ denotes a turning our backs upon the world—and turning our hearts unto Him as our only Hope and Portion. It is the abandoning of every idol—and the surrendering of ourselves to His Lordship. It is the repudiation of our own righteousness and every dependency, and the heart going out to Him in loving submission and trustful confidence. It is the entire going out of Self with all its resolutions and performances, to cast ourselves upon His grace and mercy. It is the will yielding itself up to His authority to be molded by Him, and to follow Him wherever He may lead.

In short, coming to Christ is the whole soul of a guilty and self-condemned sinner—turning unto a whole Christ, in the exercise of all our facilities, responding to His claims upon us, prepared to unreservedly trust, sincerely love, and devotedly serve Him. (Excerpt from The Call of Christ)

J C Ryle asks...

What is the invitation to the laboring and heavy laden? Jesus says, "come unto me."

I love that word "Come." To me it seems full of grace, mercy and encouragement. "Come now," says the Lord in Isaiah, "and let us reason together: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow."

Come is the word put in the mouth of the king's messenger in the parable of the guest-supper: "All is now ready; come unto the marriage."

Come is the last word in the Bible to sinners. "The Spirit and the Bride say, Come."

Jesus does not say, "Go and get ready." This is the word of the Pharisee and self-righteous. "Go and work out a righteousness. Do this and that and be saved." Jesus says, Come.

Jesus does not say "Send."...Jesus says Come.

Jesus does not say "Wait." This is the word of the enthusiast and the fanatic. "You can do nothing. You must not ask; you cannot pray; you must sit still." Cold comfort for troubled souls. Jesus says come.

Come is a word of merciful invitation. It seems to say, "I want you to escape the wrath to come. I am not willing that any should perish. I have no pleasure in death. I would gladly have all men saved, and I offer all the water of life freely. So come to Me."

Come is a word of gracious expectation. It seems to say, "I am here waiting for you. I sit on my mercy-seat expecting you to come. I wait to be gracious. I wait for more sinners to come in before I close the door. I want more names written down in the book of life before it is closed forever. So come to Me."

Come is a word of kind encouragement. It seems to say, I have got treasures to bestow if you will only receive them. I have that to give which makes it worth while to come: a free pardon, a robe of righteousness, a new heart, a star of peace. So come to Me.

Brethren, I ask you to hear these words and lay them to heart. I plead for my Master; I stand here an ambassador; I ask you to come and be reconciled to God.

I ask you to come with all your sins, however many they may be. If you come to Him they will be taken away. I ask you to come as you are. You feel unfit; you say you are not good enough. The worse you think yourself, the better prepared you are. Christ is not a Savior of those who think they are righteous—but of sinners. I ask you to come now. No other time is your own. The opportunity past, the door will be shut, and yourself dead. Come now. Come to Christ.

Ah! brethren, I fear that many of you will not take one saving step—will not come to Christ. You go on content with your own devices, like Balaam; like Felix, you never finally come to Christ.

I warn you plainly that you may come to church, and come to the Lord's table, and come to the minister, and yet never be saved. The one thing needed is actual coming to the Savior, actual coming to the Fountain, actual washing in the blood of atonement. Except you do this, you will die in your sins.

Gird up your loins like a man, and resolve that you will come. Do you feel vile and unworthy to come? Tell it to Jesus. Do you feel as if you know not what to say and do when you come? Tell it to Jesus. Tell Him you are all sin; tell Him you are all weakness; tell Him you feel as if you had no faith and no power, no grace and no strength, no goodness and no love—but come to Him, and commit your soul to His charge. Let nothing keep you back from Christ.

Tell Him you have heard that He receives sinners; that you are such a one, and you want to be saved. Tell Him you have nothing to plead but His own word—but He said Come, and therefore you come to Him. (Come Unto Me)

Octavius Winslow adds that...

The life of faith is a constant coming to Jesus for daily, hourly, and fresh supplies.

Let every circumstance and event, every trial, sorrow, and need, be an echo of the gracious life inspiring words: "Go to Jesus!"

Go to Jesus, confessing sin. Go to Jesus, unveiling grief. Go to Jesus, telling need. Go to Jesus, breathing love, desire, and hope.

You are still in the land of famine and of need. But your heavenly Father would remind you that He has anticipated and provided . . .for all your requirements, for all your history, for your daily demands, in Him whom whose fullness fills all in all.

Take the hard heart, or the broken heart; take the cold heart, or the glowing heart; take your barrenness, or your fruitfulness; take the sunbeam of prosperity, or the cloud of adversity; take the joy, take the sorrow; take all to Jesus!

Let Him participate in all, keep you in all, sympathize with all; for Jesus is your Brother, raised up to befriend, relieve, and preserve you in your time of need.

J C Philpot asks...

Are you ever weary . . .of the world, of sin, of self, of everything below the skies?

If so, you want something to give you rest.

You look to SELF—it is but shifting sand, tossed here and there with the restless tide, and ever casting up mire and dirt. No holding ground; no anchorage; no rest there.

You look to OTHERS—you see what man is, even the very best of men in their best state—how fickle, how unstable, how changing and changeable; how weak even when willing to help; how more likely to add to, than relieve your distress; if desirous to sympathize with and comfort you in trouble and sorrow, how short his arm to help, how unsatisfactory his aid to relieve! You find no rest there.

You lean upon the WORLD—it is but a broken reed which runs into your hand and pierces you. You find no rest there.

So look where you will, there is no rest for the sole of your foot.

John MacDuff addresses the question...

"Oh, where can rest be found?" This is the cry of weary, care worn humanity.

This is the cry embracing every nation and every climate, from the yearnings of heathendom to the longings and aspirations of the present hour. From the tumultuous sea of the world's unrest, this cry has gone up like a dirge of baffled souls, "Oh, where can rest be found?"

"Come unto me," is the address of many siren voices, titillating tones of questionable or forbidden pleasure, leading only to . . .unrest, disquiet, heart weariness, life failure; tinted soap bubbles with a momentary iridescence, then collapsing.

The existence of many is a pursuit after spurious and counterfeit rest, misnamed "happiness"; an aimless, vapid life of pleasure; engrossed with objects which bring with them no sense of satisfaction; a dull, weary round on the world's monotonous treadmill.

Some strive to find rest through the gateway of ethical systems and philosophic tenets.

Others, through the gateway of human merit.

Others through . . .ceremonial observances, fasts and vigils, penances and pilgrimages, rites and ceremonies, creeds and dogmas.

These, and such as these, are alike spurious and unavailing.

"Oh, where can rest be found?"

Matthew 11:28 is the answer, the only real answer!

LEARNING TO REST (Isaiah 30:15) - Many Christians are anxious and troubled. Although they are experiencing the "rest" of salvation that accompanies the forgiveness of sins and are looking forward to the eternal "rest" of heaven, their souls are still in turmoil. Fearful and doubting, they seem to be continually burdened by life's problems. A closer look at their anxiety can reveal the reason for their distress. Having never learned to rest in the Lord, they fail to experience the "quietness and confidence" (Isaiah 30:15) that comes to those who daily fellowship with Him through Bible study and prayer.

An unknown author has penned a verse describing the problem:

We mutter and sputter, we fume and we spurt;
We mumble and grumble, our feelings get hurt;
We can't understand things, our vision grows dim,
When all that we need is communion with Him!

Don't let yourself become a victim of fruitless fretting. If you do, you'll lose the peace and joy that is your rightful heritage. Instead, set aside part of each day to talk with God, thanking Him for who He is and what He has done for you. Then, by reading His word and believing His comforting promises, your faith will grow stronger and a supernatural peace will flood your soul. Jesus said, "Come to Me,...and I will give you rest" (Mt. 11:28). Have you learned to rest in Him? - Henry G. Bosch (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

When we put our problems in God's hands,
He puts His peace in our hearts.

A band of explorers in Africa hired some villagers to help them on their journey through the jungle. The group set out and pushed on relentlessly for several days. Finally the tribesmen sat down and would go no farther. When asked the reason, their leader answered, "We've been going too fast. We must pause and wait for our souls to catch up with our bodies!"

Many Christians who have overextended themselves in a flurry of church activities or other worthwhile pursuits have experienced a similar feeling. Being so preoccupied with helping others, they suddenly feel as if they have left behind the most important part of themselves—their soul. They have lost intimate contact with the Lord.

If our schedule leaves no time for rest and nurturing our spiritual life, we are just too busy! God does not ask us to be constantly on the go, rushing here and there. Sometimes He wants us to "rest a while" so that our souls can "catch up" and be refreshed for the challenges that lie ahead.—H. G. Bosch (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

REST BY THE FIRE - When guests at The Houstonian Hotel in Houston, Texas, enter the main lobby on a searingly hot summer day, they are often surprised to see flames dancing in a huge stone fireplace. If it's scorching outside and the air conditioning is humming away, why have a fire burning inside? Because people like to gather around a fire. The gas logs don't produce much heat, but there's something warm, inviting, and relaxing about the flickering light. It seems to say, "Pull up a chair, sit clown, and rest awhile."

As I read the Bible, I often sense that weary, anxious people were drawn to Jesus Christ in much the same way that travelers today are drawn toward the fireplace in that Texas hotel.

A Christian who loves Jesus is sometimes said to be "on fire for the Lord." What a great way to describe the warm, inviting presence of Christ that radiates from the lives of His children before the eyes of weary people in a troubled world! —D. C. M. (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

RESTING ON JESUS - A missionary in Africa experienced great difficulty in trying to translate the Gospel of John into the local dialect. He faced the problem of finding a word for believe. When he came to that particular word, he always had to leave a blank space.

Then one day a runner came panting into the camp, having traveled a great distance with a very important message. After blurting out his story, he fell exhausted into a hammock nearby. He muttered a brief phrase that seemed to express both his great weariness and his contentment at finding such a delightful place of relaxation. The missionary, never having heard these words before, asked a bystander what the runner had said. "Oh, he is saying, `I'm at the end of myself, therefore I am resting all of my weight here!"' The missionary exclaimed, "Praise God! That is the very expression I need for the word believe!"

REST IN THE STORM - I heard about a submarine that was on patrol during wartime and had to remain submerged overnight. When it resurfaced the next day, a friend on another ship radioed the captain, "How did you fare in that terrible storm last night?" Surprised, the officer exclaimed, "What storm? We didn't know there was one!" Although the ocean's surface had been whipped into huge waves by high winds, the vessel was not affected because the waters below remained calm and tranquil.

Someone once outlined the words of Isaiah 26:3 this way:

You—a Precious God.

Perfect peace—a Priceless Possession.

Whose mind is stayed on You—a Present focus.

Because he trusts in You—a Powerful faith.

The believer who is confident of God's providence, who rests in His grace, and who relies on His Holy Spirit will experience the miracle of His quieting peace. —H. G. Bosch (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

When we fix our mind on Jesus,
He keeps our mind at rest.

From nature we can learn a lesson about the importance of rest. Built into the life of every tree are stages of dormancy. In his book As a Tree Grows, W Phillip Keller points out that in northern climates the dormant phase is in the winter, and in the tropical regions it is during the hot, dry season. "It is important to understand," says Keller, that dormancy is not death. A tree may appear to be dead, it is true. The leaves of deciduous trees will be all stripped off in the fall, leaving a stark skeleton. The tree is nevertheless very much alive—but at rest." He added that this dormancy is immediately followed by a period of active growth. The dormant phase is a rebuilding and reconditioning for the upsurge of vigorous activity ahead.

Some Christians think that inactivity is a waste of time. They see the occasional lulls that come into life as being unproductive. But that is not necessarily the case. Notice what Christ did for His disciples after they had finished a strenuous period of evangelistic activity He led then into the wilderness to rest so they could be restored for further service. —D. C. Egner (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Time in Christ's service
Requires time out for renewal.

RESTING ON THE BIBLE - Resting on the Bible: — In Newport church, in the Isle of Wight, lies buried the Princess Elizabeth (daughter of Charles the First). A marble monument, erected by our Queen Victoria, records in a touching way the manner of her death. She languished in Carisbrook Castle during the wars of the Commonwealth — a prisoner, alone, and separated from all the companions of her youth, tilt death set her free. She was found dead one day, with her head leaning on her Bible, and the Bible open at the words,

Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden,
and I will give you rest.

The monument in Newport church records this fact. It consists of a female figure reclining her head on a marble book, with our text engraven on the book. Think, my brethren, what a sermon in stone that monument preaches. Think what a stunning memorial it affords of the utter inability of rank and high birth to confer certain happiness. Think what a testimony it bears to the lesson before you this day — the mighty lesson that there is no true rest for any one excepting in Christ. -Happy will it be for your soul if that lesson is never forgotten.

Here is an excerpt from the related Wikipedia article....

Following her death, her grave was largely unmarked until the 19th century, with the exception of her carved initials: E[lizabeth] S[tuart]. Queen Victoria, who made her favourite home at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight, commanded that a suitable monument be erected to her memory. In 1856, a white marble sculpture by Queen Victoria's favorite sculptor Carlo Marochetti was commissioned for her grave that depicted Elizabeth as a beautiful young woman, lying with her cheek on a Bible open to words from Gospel of Matthew: "Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Above the sculpture is a grating, indicating that she was a prisoner, but the bars are broken to show that the prisoner has now escaped to "a greater rest."

The plaque marking the sculpture reads: "To the memory of The Princess Elizabeth, daughter of King Charles I, who died at Carisbrooke Castle on September 8, 1630, and is interred beneath the chancel of this church, this monument is erected as a token of respect for her virtues and of sympathy for her misfortunes, by Victoria R., 1856." (Princess Elizabeth of England)

Matthew 11:29 TAKE MY YOKE UPON YOU AND LEARN FROM ME FOR I AM GENTLE AND HUMBLE IN HEART AND YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS: arate (2PAAM) ton zugon mou eph humas kai mathete (2PPAAM) ap' hemou, hoti praus eimi (1SPAI) kai tapeinos te kardia, kai heuresete (2PFAI) anapausin tais psuchais humon

Greek:  arate (2PAAM) ton zugon mou eph humas kai mathete (2PPAAM) ap' hemou, hoti praus eimi (1SPAI) kai tapeinos te kardia, kai heuresete (2PFAI) anapausin tais psuchais humon; 

Amplified: Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls. [Jer. 6:16]  (Amplified Bible - Lockman)

Barclay: Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Westminster Press)

ESV: Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 

NLT: Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.(NLT - Tyndale House)

Phillips: Put on my yoke and learn from me. For I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls.  (Phillips: Touchstone)

Wuest: Take at once my yoke upon you and learn from me, because I am meek and lowly in heart, and you will find cessation from labor and refreshment for your souls,

Young's Literal: take up my yoke upon you, and learn from me, because I am meek and humble in heart, and ye shall find rest to your souls, 

“Take My yoke upon you

  • My yoke: Mt 7:24, 17:5 Jn 13:17, 14:21-24, 15:10-14 1Co 9:21 2Co 10:5 1Th 4:2 2Th 1:8 Heb 5:9
  • Matthew 11 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Come...Take...Learn - Notice that there are three commands each calling for a choice to respond, to surrender to Jesus. Remember that surrender means to yield to the power, control, or possession of another, in this case the One Who is Himself Rest personified. We see a similar pattern in Romans 12:1, 2 where Paul calls for us to surrender our bodies to God as a living sacrifice, as a preparation for living out the Christian life as described in Romans 12-16.

Bear not a single care thyself,
One is too much for thee;
The work is Mine, and Mine alone;
Thy work—to rest in Me.
(Chapter 1 Introduction in Hudson Taylor's Spiritual Secret)

Take (142)(airo) literally describes lifting something up, taking up, raising, as taking up stones (Jn 8:59) or raising the anchor of a ship (Act 27:13). Airo can also mean to take up and place on oneself, to take up and bear or carry (compare Mt 4:6, Septuagint of Ps 91:12, my yoke - here in Mt 11:29, Lxx of Lam 3:27, a cross - figuratively in Mt16:24; literally in Mt 27:32). "We must come as disciples to learn, willing to be guided by His yoke - not merely to receive something." (Guzik)

Adam Clarke writing on Jesus' command to take His yoke remarks that this is indeed a "Strange paradox! that a man already weary and overloaded must take a new weight upon him, in order to be eased and find rest! But this advice is similar to that saying, Ps 55:22. Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he will sustain thee; i.e. trust thy soul and concerns to him, and he will carry both thyself and thy load.

Jamieson - Matchless paradox, even among the paradoxically couched maxims in which our Lord delights! That rest which the soul experiences when once safe under Christ’s wing makes all yokes easy, all burdens light.

Yoke (2218) (zugos/zygos related to verb zeúgnuni = to join especially by a yoke, to bind) literally described a beam of balance that connected scales (see translation as scales or balances in Rev 6:5;Lev 19:36; Hos 12:7). Zugos was properly a wooden bar over the neck of a pair of animals joining them to pull together. Figuratively a connector which unites two to move or work as one.

Jesus uses this metaphor in Mt 11:29-30 because in that day a yoke was never for just one, but always joined two to work as one picturing believers living "in the yoke with Jesus," i.e. with Him and not just for Him!

Gary Hill adds that "Christians are not mere "work-horses" for Jesus!  Through salvation, they live with Christ in His spousal yoke of love (see Rev 19:7-9).  Christ our heavenly Bridegroom joins Himself intimately to us so we – as His bride – can do all things in tandem with Him (cf. 1 Jn 4:17 with Rev 19:7-9). Jesus never asks us to work for Him – only with Him . . . and He always does all the work!  Jesus' yoke is always manageable . . . because He is always in it!" In Acts 15:10  to put a yoke on the neck is an ancient idiom which means to restrict people which ironically stimulates over-doing (in another, misplaced area). Reflection: "Over-achieving for Christ" is as much a sin (missing the mark) as under-doing (compromising) – because both ending in God's disapproval (and much pain)! Eccl 7:16: "Do not be excessively righteous and do not be overly wise.  Why should you ruin yourself?" In sum, Christ's yoke operates so we can live in faith ("His in-birthed persuasion"). This includes the Lord speaking His rhēma word in the heart in each scene of life (cf. Mt 11:29,30 with Ro 10:17). In this way, we bear eternal fruit as His partner (very Bride!) – living with Christ which is far more than merely living for Him . . . or doing God's will, our way! "We must be willing, but the Lord does all the working; we prefer, but He performs!" (G. Archer) (CAVEAT: BUT NOT "LET GO, LET GOD" BUT "LET GOD AND LET'S GO!"). (The Discovery Bible)

Jesus' command to take His yoke is a call to submission of our will to His good and acceptable and perfect will. It is a call to surrender our rights and all that we are to Jesus (compare Ro 12:1-note, Ro 12:2-note where Paul exhorts the saints to surrender themselves to God as living sacrifices). Just as the master would use the yoke to keep his oxen under control and to guide them to perform useful work, so too when we are yoked to Jesus, we are surrendering ourselves to His control and His guidance, so that He might lead us into the spiritual works that have been planned for us before the foundation of the world (see Eph 2:10-note).

John Walvoord - In exhorting them to take His “yoke,” Jesus was inviting them to discipleship. A pupil enrolling for instruction under a teacher is considered as coming under a “yoke.” Instead of exchanging one burden for another, however, it is exchanging one which is onerous and crushing for one which is light and rewarding. There is an inner satisfaction and rest of soul in being a disciple of Christ which is unknown by the child of the world, who attempts to bear his own burden. (Matthew Commentary - The Growing Opposition to Jesus)

A W Pink writes that...

the “yoke” is a figure of subjection. The force of this figure may be easily perceived if we contrast in our mind oxen running loose and wild in the field, and then harnessed to a plow where their owner directs their energies and employs them in his service. Hence we read that, “It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth” (Lam. 3:27), which means that unless youths are disciplined, brought under subjection and taught to obey their superiors, they are likely to develop into sons of Belial—intractable rebels against God and man....

“Take My yoke upon you,” by which Christ connoted: surrender yourself to My Lordship, submit to My rule, let My will become yours. As Matthew Henry rightly pointed out, “We are here invited to Christ as Prophet, Priest and King, to be saved, and in order to this, to be ruled and taught by Him.” As the oxen are yoked in order to submit to their owner’s will and to work under his control, so those who would receive rest of soul from Christ are here called upon to yield to Him as their King...

“Take My yoke upon you”: it is to be carefully noted that this yoke is not laid upon us by another, but one which we are to place upon ourselves. It is a definite act on the part of one who is seeking rest from Christ and without which His rest cannot be obtained. It is a specific act of mind: an act of conscious surrender to His authority—henceforth to be ruled only by Him. Saul of Tarsus took this yoke upon him when, convicted of his rebellion (kicking against the pricks) and conquered by a sense of the Saviour’s compassion, he said, “Lord, what would Thou have me to do?” To take Christ’s yoke upon us signifies the setting aside of my own will and completely submitting to His sovereignty, the acknowledging of His Lordship in a practical way. Christ demands something more than lip service from His followers, even a loving obedience to all His commands, for He has declared, “Not everyone that says to Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of Heaven; but he that does the will of My Father Who is in Heaven” And again—“Whosoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him unto a wise man, who built his house upon a rock” (Matt. 7:21, 24). (The Yoke of Christ - a pithy, even provocative discussion you might want to read)

MacDonald - Someone has suggested that if Jesus had had a sign outside His carpenter’s shop, it would have read,

My yokes fit well.”

and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart,

  • Learn from Me: Mt 11:27, 28:20 Lk 6:46-48, 8:35, 10:39-42, Jn 13:15, Acts 3:22,23, 7:37, Eph 4:20,21 Php 2:5 1Jn 2:6
  • For I am gentle: Mt 12:19,20 21:5 Nu 12:3, Ps 131:1 Isa 42:1-4 Zec 9:9 Lk 9:51-56 2Co 10:1 Php 2:7,8 1Pe 2:21-23

Learn from Me - Especially in combination with "yoke", this is "shorthand" for become My disciple.

Learn (3129) (manthano related to the noun mathetes = disciple, literally a learner! The shut mind is the end of discipleship!) has the basic meaning of directing one’s mind to something and producing an external effect. Manthano refers to teaching, learning, instructing, and discipling. Manthano means to genuinely understand and accept a teaching, to accept it as true and to apply it in one’s life. It was sometimes used of acquiring a life-long habit.

Richards has an informative note on manthano and the related word mathetes...

In Greek culture prior to Socrates, manthano described the process by which a person sought theoretical knowledge. A mathetes was one who attached himself to another to gain some practical or theoretical knowledge, whether by instruction or by experience. The word came to be used both of apprentices who were learning a trade and of adherents of various philosophical schools. After the time of Socrates, the word lost favor with the philosophers, who were not at all happy with its association with labor.

But the concept of discipleship was most popular in the Judaism of Jesus' day. Rabbis had disciples who studied with them in a well-defined and special relationship. The need for training was intensely felt in the Jewish community, which believed that no one could understand Scripture without a teacher's guidance. A disciple in Judaism had to master--in addition to the Scriptures of the OT--the oral and written traditions that had grown up around the Scriptures. Only after being so taught might a person become a rabbi himself or teach with any authority. This notion is expressed in the Jews' amazed reaction to Jesus' public teaching: "How did this man get such learning without having studied?" (Jn 7:15). Jesus taught with authority without having gone through the only process that the Jews felt could qualify anyone to teach.

Several aspects of the rabbi-disciple relationship in first-century Judaism are significant. The disciple left his home and moved in with his teacher. He served the teacher in the most servile ways, treating him as an absolute authority. The disciple was expected not only to learn all that his rabbi knew but also to become like him in character and piety (Mt 10:24; Lk 6:40). The rabbi in return provided food and lodging and saw his own distinctive interpretations transmitted through his disciples to future generations. So when Mark says that Jesus chose twelve men "that they might be with him" (Mk 3:14), he accurately reflects contemporary understanding of how future leaders should be trained. (Richards, L O: Expository Dictionary of Bible Words: Regency)

Charles Simeon describes out duty in learning from Christ...

With the teachableness of children—[Children receive with the most implicit submission whatever their teachers tell them. Thus should we learn of Christ: we should not bring our own preconceived notions to the Scriptures, or presume to try the mysteries of revelation at the bar of our own corrupt reason; but we should believe whatever God has spoken, and receive it simply on the authority of the speaker. Nor should the opinions of the wisest philosopher be of any weight with us, if they be clearly contrary to the voice of inspiration. (Isa 8:20)

With the diligence of students—[They who have a thirst for knowledge, are almost constantly employed in deep thought, and laborious investigation. Nor do they account any pains too great, if only they can gain that eminence and distinction, which superior attainments will ensure. Thus should we be occupied in pursuit of divine knowledge; reading the word, “searching into it as for hidden treasures,” meditating upon it day and night, and praying over it for divine illumination. While others are careful, and cumbered about many things, we should be sitting at the feet of Jesus (Lk 10:39-42)a and embracing all opportunities of religious instruction, whether in public or in private.]

With the obedience of devoted followers—[Earthly knowledge may be merely speculative: divine knowledge must be practical; it is of no use at all, any further than it purifies the heart and renews the life. Whatever we find to be the mind and will of God, that we must do without hesitation, and without reserve. As the reasonings of men are to be disregarded when opposed to the declarations of God, so are the maxims of men to be set at nought, when by adopting them we should violate a divine command. One single word, confirmed with THUS SAITH THE LORD, should operate more powerfully to the regulating of our faith and practice, than the sentiments and customs of the whole world combined.

Gentle and humble - These traits help us understand why His yoke is easy and his burden light, for He is not harsh nor filled with pride. He will not oppress us or given us a burden to great for us to carry. Jesus presented a striking contrast to His Jewish audience who were well acquainted with the Pharisees who were harsh and proud, the antithesis of Jesus! To be yoked with One who is gentle and humble is to also learn to take the lowest place.

Sweet Will of God
Leila Morris

Thy precious will, O conquering Saviour,
Doth now embrace and compass me;
All discords hushed, my peace a river,
My soul a prisoned bird set free.

Sweet will of God still fold me closer,
Till I am wholly lost in Thee.
Sweet will of God still fold me closer,
Till I am wholly lost in Thee

Gentle (Meek) (4239)(praus -- some sources state it originates from paos = easy, mild or soft) (Click study of related noun gentleness= prautes) describes those who are of a quiet, gentle spirit, in opposition to the proud and supercilious Scribes and Pharisees and their disciples. We have a compound word gentleman, which once fully expressed the meaning of the word meek, but in our modern society has almost wholly lost its original meaning.

Barclay - It was the lack of that very quality which ruined Alexander the Great, who, in a fit of uncontrolled temper in the middle of a drunken debauch, hurled a spear at his best friend and killed him. No man can lead others until he has mastered himself; no man can serve others until he has subjected himself; no man can be in control of others until he has learned to control himself. But the man who gives himself into the complete control of God will gain this meekness which will indeed enable him to inherit the earth. (W. Barclay, The Gospel of Matthew The New Daily Study Bible Westminster John Knox Press)

MacArthur writes that "Meekness is the opposite of violence and vengeance. The meek person, for example, accepts joyfully the seizing of his property, knowing that he has infinitely better and more permanent possessions awaiting him in heaven (Heb. 10:34). The meek person has died to self, and he therefore does not worry about injury to himself, or about loss, insult, or abuse. The meek person does not defend himself, first of all because that is His Lord’s command and example, and second because he knows that he does not deserve defending. Being poor in spirit and having mourned over his great sinfulness, the gentle person stands humbly before God, knowing he has nothing to commend himself. (MacArthur, J: Matthew 1-7 Macarthur New Testament Commentary Chicago: Moody Press)

As noted above the Greeks characterized meekness as power under control and in the case of the Spirit filled believer this means that he or she is under the control of God's Spirit. From a practical standpoint, the individual who is "praus" exhibits a freedom from malice, bitterness, or any desire for revenge. The only way to truly define meekness is in the context of relationships because it refers to how we treat others. A gentle spirit should characterize our relationship with both man and God.

Humble (5011) (tapeinos) means low, not high, not rising far from the ground. It speaks of one's condition as lowly or of low degree. It described what was considered base, common, unfit, and having little value. It pictures one brought low, as for example by grief. Tapeinos is descriptive particularly of attitude and social positions.

Wuest writes that tapeinos...

The word is found in an early secular document where it speaks of the Nile River in its low stage in the words, “It runs low.” The word means “not rising far from the ground.” It describes the Christian who follows in the humble and lowly steps of his Lord. (Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: Studies in the Vocabulary of the Greek New Testament: Grand Rapids: Eerdmans)

Larry Richards has some excellent comments on tapeinos writing that...

In Greek culture, tapeinos and its derivatives were words of contempt. The Greeks saw man as the measure of all things. Thus, to be low on the social scale, to know poverty, or to be socially powerless was seen as shameful. Only seldom in classical Greek do these words have a positive tone, commending an unassuming or obedient attitude. Scripture, however, sees the universe as measurable only against God. Compared to him, human beings are rightly viewed as humble. Thus in Scripture tapeinos and its derivatives are nearly always used in a positive sense (exceptions are in 2Co 10:1; Col 2:18-note, Col 2:23-note). Tapeinos represents a person's proper estimate of himself in relation to God and to others. In this sense, Jesus himself lived a humble life, depending completely on God and relating appropriately to all around him (Mt 11:29). It is the humble, Jesus says, whom God will exalt in his good time (Lk 14:11; 18:14). While the thought of the OT about humility infuses the NT, we learn more about humility in the Gospels and the Epistles.

Humble in heart - Moses helps us understand this trait. He was described by God as “a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.” (Nu 12:3) What is Moses doing while Miriam and Aaron were criticizing him (Numbers 12:1-4)? Nothing. His first recorded words come in Nu 12:13 where he cries out, “O Lord, heal her!” It is at this point that we see Moses’ greatness. Notice that Moses' mindset had certain effects (which can help us determine if we are meek)...

  • He didn’t fight back.
  • He didn’t answer his critics.
  • He didn’t get angry.
  • He didn’t seek revenge.
  • He didn’t argue or try to explain his actions.
  • He didn’t complain about his unfair treatment.
  • Instead, he kept silent and let the Lord take up his cause.
  • He only opened his mouth to pray for Miriam.


  • You will find rest: Mt 11:28 Jer 6:16 Heb 4:3-11 
  • Matthew 11 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries


You will find rest - Think of this rest as God's great treasure for believers who lay hold of it by trusting in Jesus. "Find" is the Greek verb heurisko (see below) from which we get our English word "Eureka!" (Translated "I have found it!"), an exclamation attributed to Archimedes upon discovering a method for determining the purity of gold. Although we don't hear this word much today, in the past it was a triumphant cry of joy on discovering or finding something one greatly values! "Eureka!" should be the cry of every weary, heavy laden heart that has discovered the priceless REST found only in the Son of God. Have you found His Rest?


Hebrews 4 gives us a clue as to how to we can "find" or discover Jesus' rest...

Therefore (see what he has just stated in Heb 3:18, 19-note), let us fear lest, while a promise remains of entering His rest (katapausis = cessation of striving), any one of you should seem to have come short of it. For indeed we have had good news preached to us (euaggelizo - "gospeled to us"), just as they (Israel in the wilderness wanderings) also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard. For we who have believed enter (present tense - pictures believers as in the process of entering) that rest, just as He has said, " AS I SWORE IN MY WRATH, THEY SHALL NOT ENTER MY REST," although His works were finished from the foundation of the world. (Hebrews 4:1, 2-note, Heb 4:3-note)

R Kent Hughes makes an interesting distinction between belief and trust: Leon Morris says that faith here in Hebrews 4:2 is “the attitude of trusting God wholeheartedly.” So we must understand that the opening line of Hebrews 4:3, which says, “Now we who have believed enter that rest,” specifically means, “we who have wholeheartedly trusted enter that rest.” Thus, it is spelled out in no uncertain terms that faith that pleases God is belief plus trust. Belief, the mental acceptance of a fact as true, will simply not bring rest to any soul. Acknowledging that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and Savior of the world will not give us rest. Trust in Him is what gives rest to our souls. “Trust brings rest,” says Alexander Maclaren, “because it sweeps away, as the north wind does the banded clouds on the horizon, all the deepest causes of unrest.” First, trust in Christ’s sacrificial death begins our rest by giving us rest from the burden of guilt for our sins and a gnawing conscience. Second, trust in his character as an almighty God and a loving Savior gives us rest as we place our burdens on him. Just as a child sleeps so well in his parents’ arms, so we rest in God.


There is not a fretful soul in the world who is trusting. “The message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith” (Heb 4:2)—and so it is with us. Our belief or unbelief makes all the difference. Few have lived as stressful and frenetic a life as J. Hudson Taylor, founder of China Inland Mission. But Taylor lived in God’s rest, as his son beautifully attests:

Day and night this was his secret, “just to roll the burden on the Lord.” Frequently those who were wakeful in the little house at Chinkiang might hear, at two or three in the morning, the soft refrain of Mr. Taylor’s favorite hymn ["Jesus, I am resting, resting in the joy of what Thou art" - sung by Steve Green]. He had learned that for him, only one life was possible—just that blessed life of resting and rejoicing in the Lord under all circumstances, while He dealt with the difficulties, inward and outward, great and small. ("Hudson Taylor's Spiritual Secret" - Online Book - Highly Recommended Read!) (Ed: I would add that Hudson Taylor had learned to "Come", walking by faith, to Jesus in every circumstance - May we be imitators of men like Hudson Taylor who by faith and patience inherited the rest promised by our Redeemer. Amen. Hebrews 6:11, 12-note)

Fellow-Christians, there is a rest for you. It is not beyond your capacity. You can have it if you wish....

The verb “enter” (in Heb 4:3) is in the present tense, which means that as believers we are in the process of entering. There is a now and then to our rest. Now, in Christ, we have entered and are entering our rest. Our experience of rest is proportionate to our trusting in Him. A wholehearted trust, for example, brings His rest into our souls in all its divine, cosmic and ideal dimensions. But there is also a future rest in Heaven—the repose of soul in God’s rest, forever joyous, satisfied and working—“work that never becomes toil nor needs repose.” (Hebrews: An Anchor for the Soul, Volume 1 - R. Kent Hughes) (Bolding, italics and color added)

The following poem by George Matheson while not using the word "rest", I think does allude to how one enters the rest of the Savior...see if you agree...

Make me captive, Lord,
And then I shall be free;
Force me to render up my sword,
And I shall conqueror be;
I sink in life's alarms
When by myself I stand;
Imprison me within Thine arms,
And strong shall be my hand.

My will is not my own
Till Thou hast made it Thine;
If it would reach the monarch's throne
It must its crown resign;
It only stands unbent,
Amid the clashing strife,
When on Thy bosom it has leaned,
And found in Thee its life.
-George Matheson

Find (2147) (heurisko) means to learn the location of something, either by intentional searching or by unexpected discovery. Heurisko can also mean to learn something previously not known, frequently involving an element of surprise. In the present context we can discover Jesus' rest by coming to Him, trusting Him to fulfill His promise to give rest to our souls. And when we do, we'll shout "Eureka!"

Rest (refreshment) (372) (anapausis from anapauo ~ refresh, give rest, permit one to cease from labor in order to recover and collect his strength <> aná = again + paúo = cease, give rest) describes rest or inner tranquility (inner rest) while performing necessary labor. An inward rest while laboring, thus anapausis is not primarily the cessation of work with the resultant rest, but the restoration of lost strength and inner rest experienced simultaneously in the work.

Figuratively anapausis refers to spiritual rest here in Mt 11.29 where the Lord promises anapausis while engaged in necessary labor, which is a paradox to the natural man. Supernatural "rest" when laboring is what Jesus promises. The focus seems to be upon restorative character of rest rather than mere cessation of activity. MacDonald in fact notes that Jesus' rest is "the rest that one experiences in the service of Christ when he stops trying to be great."

Compare - anapausis (372), rest with anesis (425), relief, relaxation.

Rest (Webster) - Cessation of motion or action of any kind, and applicable to any body or being; as rest from labor; rest from mental exertion; rest of body or mind. A body is at rest, when it ceases to move; the mind is at rest, when it ceases to be disturbed or agitated; the sea is never at rest. Hence,

Quiet; repose; a state free from motion or disturbance; a state of reconciliation to God; freedom from activity or labor; a state of motionlessness or inactivity; peace of mind or spirit; a rhythmic silence in music.

TDNT summarizes anapausis - a. “Cessation,” “interruption”; b. “rest”; c. “place of rest”; d. “day of rest.” Instead of the rest given by wisdom, Jesus offers true rest (b) with the gospel (Mt. 11:28-29). Without “cessation” (a) is the sense in Rev. 4:8, “place of rest” (c) in Mt. 12:43.

Moulton and Milligan record the secular example of "a septuagenarian (70 year old person who) pleads for “relief” (anapausis) from public duties and ...we read of the (rest) accorded to veterans...from military service....The essential idea is that of a respite, or temporary rest as a preparation for future toil....

R Kent Hughes comments on the "ideal" rest of God which is available to all believers noting that it "is a working rest. God finished his great work and rested, but it was not a cessation from work, but rather the proper repose that comes from completing a great work. Jesus referred to his Father’s ongoing work saying, “My Father is always at His work to this very day, and I, too, am working” (John 5:17). God’s repose is full of active toil. God rests, and in His rest He keeps working, even now. (Ibid) (Bolding added)

J C Ryle - Rest is a pleasant thing, and a thing that all seek after. The merchant, the banker, the tradesman, the soldier, the lawyer, the farmer—all look forward to the day when they shall be able to rest. But how few can find rest in this world! How many pass their lives in seeking it, and never seem able to reach it! It seems very near sometimes, and they imagine it will soon be their own. Some new personal calamity happens, and they are as far off rest as ever. The whole world is full of restlessness and disappointment, weariness and emptiness. The very faces of worldly men let out the secret; their countenances give evidence that the Bible is true; they find no rest....But Jesus offers rest to all who will come to Him. "Come unto Me," he says, "and I will give you rest." He will give it. He will not SELL it, as the Pharisee supposes—so much rest and peace in return for so many good works. He gives it freely to every coming sinner, without money and without price....He will give you rest from guilt of sin....He will give you rest from fear of law....He will give you rest from fear of hell....He will give you rest from fear of the devil....He will give you rest from fear of death....He will give you rest in the storm of affliction. He will comfort you with comfort the world knows nothing of. He will cheer your heart, and sustain your fainting spirit. He will enable you to bear loss patiently, and to hold your peace in the day of trouble. Oh! this is rest indeed. I know well, brethren, that believers do not enjoy so much rest as they might. I know well that they "bring a bad report of the land," and live below their privileges. It is their unbelief; it is their indwelling sin. There was a well near Hagar—but she never saw it. There was safety for Peter on the water—but he did not look to Jesus, and was afraid. And just so it is with many believers: they give way to needless fear—are straitened in themselves. But still there is a real rest and peace in Christ for all who come to Him. The man that fled to the city of refuge was safe when once within the walls, though perhaps at first he hardly believed it; and so it is with the believer....Be advised, everyone of you who is now seeking rest in the world. Be advised, and come and seek rest in Christ. You have no home, no refuge, no hiding place, no portion. Sickness and death will soon be upon you—and you are unprepared. Be advised, and seek rest in Christ. There is enough in Him and to spare. Who has tried and did not find? A dying Welsh boy said, in broken English, "Jesus Christ is plenty for everybody." Know your privileges, all you who have come to Christ. You have something solid under foot and something firm under hand. You have a rest even now, and you shall have more abundantly...Let me speak to those who have come to Christ indeed. You are often cast down and disquieted within you. And why? Just because you do not abide in Christ and seek all rest and peace in Him. You wander from the fold: no wonder you return weary, footsore, and tired. Come again to the Lord Jesus and renew the covenant. Believe me, if you live to be as old as Methuselah, you will never get beyond this: a sinner saved by the grace of Christ. And think of the sinner's end. Rest in Christ—and so rest indeed! (Come Unto Me)

Wuest on REST - Rest. This is the single translation of two Greek words which speak of rest from two different points of view. These must be distinguished if the Bible student is to arrive at a full-orbed and clear interpretation of the passages in which each appears. Trench has the following on these words: “Our Version renders both these words by ‘rest’; anapausis at Mt 11:29, 12:43; and anesis at 2Cor. 2:13, 7:5; 2Thes. 1:7. No one can object to this; while yet, on a closer scrutiny, we perceive that they repose on different points of view. Anapausis from anapauo, implies the pause or cessation from labor (Rev. 4:8); it is the constant word in the Septuagint for the rest of the Sabbath; thus Ex. 16:23, 31:15, 35:2, and often. Anesis), from aniemi, implies the relaxing or letting down of chords or strings, which have before been strained or drawn tight, its exact and literal antithesis being epitasis (a stretching) … thus Plato…‘in the tightening (epitasis and slackening (anesis) of the strings!… ’ Plato has the same opposition between anesin and spoude (haste, speed); … while Plutarch sets anesis over against stenochoria (narrowness of space, a confined space), as a dwelling at large, instead of in a narrow and straight room; and St. Paul over against thlipsis (a pressure, oppression, affliction) (2Cor. 8:13), not willing that there should be ‘ease’ (anesis) to other Churches, and ‘affliction’ (thlipsis), that is from an excessive contribution, to the Corinthian. Used figuratively, it expresses what we, employing the same image, call the relaxation of morals (thus Athenaeus, 14:13: akolasia (licentiousness, imtemperance, any excess or extravagance) kai (και) (and) anesis, setting it over against sophrosune (good sense, sobriety, prudence). “It will at once be perceived how excellently chosen echein anesin (“let him have liberty”) at Acts 24:23 is, to express what St. Luke has in hand to record. Felix, taking now a more favorable view of Paul’s case, commands the centurion who had him in charge, to relax the strictness of his imprisonment, to keep him rather under honorable arrest than in actual confinement; which partial relaxation of his bonds is exactly what this phrase implies.…“The distinction, then, is obvious. When our Lord promises anapausis to the weary and heavy laden who come to Him (Mt. 11:18, 29), His promise is, that they shall cease from their toils; shall no longer spend their labor for that which satisfieth not. When St. Paul expresses his confidence that the Thessalonians, troubled now, should yet find anesia in the day of Christ (II Thes. 1:7), he anticipates for them, not so much cessation from labor, as relaxation of the chords of affliction, now so tightly drawn, strained and stretched to the uttermost. It is true that this promise and that at the heart are not two, but one; yet for all this they present the blessedness which Christ will impart to His own under different aspects, and by help of different images; and each word has its own fitness in the place where it is employed.” The noun anapausis is found in Mt. 11:29, 12:43; Lk. 11:24; Rev. 4:8, 14:11. The verb anapauo, which is of the same root, and which means, “to cause or permit one to cease from any movement or labor in order to recover and collect his strength, to give rest, refresh, to give one’s self rest, to take rest,” occurs in Mt. 11:28, 26:45; Mk. 6:31, 14:41; Lk. 12:19; I Cor. 16:18; II Cor. 7:13; Philemon 1:7, 20; 1Pet. 4:14; Rev. 6:11, 14:13. There are illustrations of the use of these words in the papyri. Moulton and Milligan report the use of anapausis in the case of a man over 70 who pleads for “relief” (anapausis) from public duties; also in the case of veterans who have been released from military’ service for a five years’ rest. They say that the essential idea of this word is that of a respite or temporary rest as a preparation for future toil. They report the use of the verb anapauo as a technical term of agriculture where a farmer rests his land by sowing light crops upon it. The word anesis is found in Acts 24:23 (liberty); II Cor. 2:13, 7:5, 8:13; II Thes. 1:7. (Wuest's word studies from the Greek New Testament : For the English reader)

John Newton (Amazing Grace) notes that...

The Greek word expresses something more than rest, or a mere relaxation from toil; it denotes refreshment likewise. A person weary with long bearing a heavy burden, will need not only to have it removed—but likewise he needs food and refreshment, to restore his spirits, and to repair his wasted strength. Such is the rest of the Gospel. It not only puts an end to our fruitless labor—but it affords a sweet reviving cordial. There is not only peace—but joy in believing....

I have spoken something concerning the wearisome exercise of a conscience burdened with guilt: but by coming to Jesus and believing in him, an end is put to this. When we are enabled to view our sins as laid upon Christ, that those who come are accepted in the Beloved, that there is no more condemnation—but pardon, reconciliation, and adoption, are the sure privileges of all who trust in Him—O the sweet calm that immediately takes place in the soul! It is something more than deliverance....

There is likewise a rest from the power of sin. In vain is this sought from resolutions and endeavors in our own strength. Even after we are spiritually awakened, and begin to understand the Gospel salvation, it is usually for a season rather a fight than a rest. But when we are brought nearer to Christ, and taught to live upon him as our sanctification, deriving all our strength and motives from him by faith, we obtain a comparative rest in this respect also. We find hard things become easy, and mountains sink into plains, by power displayed in our behalf...

There is a rest from our own works. The believer is quite delivered from the law as a covenant, and owes it no longer service in that view. His obedience is gracious, cheerful, the effect of love; and therefore he is freed from those fears and burdens which once disturbed him in the way of duty. At first there was a secret, though not allowed dependence on himself. When his frames were lively—he was strong, and thought he had something to trust to—but under a change (and changes will happen), he was at his wit's end. But there is a promised, and therefore an attainable rest in this respect; a liberty and power to repose on the finished Work and unchangeable Word of Christ; to follow him steadily through light and darkness; to glory in him not only when our frames are brightest; and to trust in him assuredly when we are at our lowest ebb. Such is the present rest; in different degrees according to the proportion of faith, and capable of increase even in those who have attained most, so long as we remain in this imperfect state. (The Present and Future Rest of True Believers)

F W Robertson adds that the rest Jesus gives to our souls is not a rest of inaction "It is not the lake locked in ice that suggests repose, but the river moving on calmly and rapidly, in silent majesty and strength. It is not the cattle lying in the sun, but the eagle cleaving the air with fixed pinions, that gives you the idea of repose with strength and motion. In creation, the rest of God is exhibited as a sense of power which nothing wearies. When chaos burst into harmony, so to speak, God had rest.

Spurgeon adds that when you "Carry Christ’s burden...your shoulders shall have rest. We do not mean sleep or idleness when we speak of rest: that is not rest, but rust.

Vine writes that anapausis means "cessation, refreshment, rest (ana = up + pauō = to make to cease), the constant word in the Septuagint (Lxx) for the Sabbath rest, is used in Mt 11:29; here the contrast seems to be to the burdens imposed by the Pharisees. Christ’s rest is not a rest from work, but in work, “not the rest of inactivity but of the harmonious working of all the faculties and affections—of will, heart, imagination, conscience—because each has found in God the ideal sphere for its satisfaction and development” (J. Patrick, in Hastings’ Bible Dictionary)

Anapausis - 5 times in the NT...

Matthew 11:29 "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.

Matthew 12:43 "Now when the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and does not find it.

Luke 11:24 "When the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and not finding any, it says, 'I will return to my house from which I came.'

Revelation 4:8 And the four living creatures, each one of them having six wings, are full of eyes around and within; and day and night they do not cease to say, "HOLY, HOLY, HOLY is THE LORD GOD, THE ALMIGHTY, WHO WAS AND WHO IS AND WHO IS TO COME."

Comment: In this context anapausis means there is no cessation of activity in which one is engaged, which is the same sense in Revelation 14:11.

Revelation 14:11 "And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name."

Comment: Rev 4:8 and Rev 14:11 highlight a dramatic contrast of ceaseless praise in worship of the Almighty versus ceaseless punishment for worshippers of the Beast! The beast worshipers may have rest (of a sort) during the brief time of the end, but will have no rest throughout eternity future. The saints often experience duress during our brief time on earth, but thereafter will “rest (anapauo) from their labors (Greek = kopos = laborious toil which involves weariness and sorrow. Intense effort united with trouble and toil.)” (Re 14:13-note). Another contrast is seen in regard to the entity of rest - no rest in all eternity for those who reject Christ (Rev 14:11) and eternal rest (anapauo) for all who receive Christ (Rev 14:13). All men will be forever RESTLESS or RESTFUL (rest filled)! Dear reader, I pray you are in the latter camp! Amen.

Anapausis - 42v in the Septuagint (LXX) - Ge 8:9; 49:15; Ex 16:23; 23:12; 31:15; 35:2; Lev 16:31; 23:3, 24, 39; 25:4f, 8; Num 10:33; Ruth 1:9; 3:1; 1 Chr 22:9; 28:2; Esth 9:17; Ps 22:2; 114:7; 131:4, 8; Eccl 4:6; 6:5; 9:17; Job 7:18; 21:13; Mic 2:10; Isa 11:10; 14:3; 17:2; 23:12f; 25:10; 28:2; 32:17; 34:14; 37:28; 65:10; Jer 51:33; Lam 1:3. Here are some representative uses...

Genesis 8:9 but the dove found no resting (Heb = manoach = condition of rest; Lxx = anapausis) place for the sole of her foot, so she returned to him into the ark, for the water was on the surface of all the earth. Then he put out his hand and took her, and brought her into the ark to himself.

Exodus 16:23 (cp similar uses of anapausis in Ex 31:15, 35:2, Lv 16:31, 23:3, ) then he said to them, "This is what the LORD meant: Tomorrow is a Sabbath (Lxx = sabbaton) observance, a holy Sabbath (Lxx = anapausis) to the LORD. Bake what you will bake and boil what you will boil, and all that is left over put aside to be kept until morning."

Exodus 23:12 "Six days you are to do your work, but on the seventh day you shall cease (Heb = shabath = cease, desist; Lxx = anapausis) from labor so that your ox and your donkey may rest, and the son of your female slave, as well as your stranger, may refresh (Lxx = anapsucho = to recover breath) themselves.

Leviticus 23:39 'On exactly the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the crops of the land, you shall celebrate the feast of the LORD for seven days, with a rest (Heb = shabathon = time of rest; Lxx = anapausis) on the first day and a rest (Heb = shabathon = time of rest; Lxx = anapausis) on the eighth day.

Ruth 1:9-note "May the LORD grant that you may find rest (Heb = menuchah = resting place of peace and quiet; Lxx = anapausis), each in the house of her husband." Then she kissed them, and they lifted up their voices and wept.

Ruth 3:1-note Then Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, "My daughter, shall I not seek security (ESV = rest) (Heb = manoach = resting place of peace and quiet; Lxx = anapausis) for you, that it may be well with you?

Psalm 23:2 He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet (Heb = menuchah = resting place of peace and quiet; Lxx = anapausis) waters (Hebrew = "waters of rests")

Spurgeon on quiet or still waters - What are these "still waters" but the influences and graces of his blessed Spirit? His Spirit attends us in various operations, like waters -- in the plural -- to cleanse, to refresh, to fertilise, to cherish. They are "still waters", for the Holy Ghost loves peace, and sounds no trumpet of ostentation in his operations. He may flow into our soul, but not into our neighbour's, and therefore our neighbour may not perceive the divine presence; and though the blessed Spirit may be pouring his floods into one heart, yet he that sitteth next to the favoured one may know nothing of it.

"In sacred silence of the mind My heaven, and there my God I find."

Still waters run deep. Nothing more noisy than an empty drum. That silence is golden indeed in which the Holy Spirit meets with the souls of his saints. Not to raging waves of strife, but to peaceful streams of holy love does the Spirit of God conduct the chosen sheep. He is a dove, not an eagle; the dew, not the hurricane. Our Lord leads us beside these "still waters;" we could not go there of ourselves, we need his guidance, therefore it is said, "he leads me." He does not drive us. Moses drives us by the law, but Jesus leads us by his example, and the gentle drawing of his love.

Psalm 132:8 Arise (command) O LORD, to Your resting (Heb = menuchah = resting place of peace and quiet; Lxx = anapausis) place, You and the ark of Your strength.

Ecclesiastes 4:6 One hand full of rest (nachath = quietness; Lxx = anapausis) is better than two fists full of labor and striving after wind.

Trench discusses the relationship between anapausis and anesis...

Anapausis from anapauo implies the pause or cessation from labor (Rev4:8); it is the constant word in the Septuagint for the rest of the Sabbath; thus Ex16:23, 31:15, 35:2, and often.

Anesis, from aniemi (aniema = to loosen, relax), implies the relaxing or letting down of chords or strings, which have before been strained or drawn tight, its exact and literal antithesis being epitasis (a stretching)…thus Plato… ‘in the tightening (epitasis) and slackening (anesis) of the strings!…’Plato has the same opposition between anesin and spoude (haste, speed);…while Plutarch sets anesis over against stenochoria (narrowness of space, a confined space), as a dwelling at large, instead of in a narrow and straight room; and Paul over against thlipsis (a pressure, oppression, affliction) (2Co 8:13), not willing that there should be ‘ease’ (anesis) to other Churches, and ‘affliction’ (thlipsis), that is from an excessive contribution, to the Corinthian.

Used figuratively, anesis expresses what we, employing the same image, call the relaxation of morals (thus Athenaeus, 14:13: akolasia (licentiousness, intemperance, any excess or extravagance) kai anesis setting it over against sophrosune (good sense, sobriety, prudence).

MATTHEW 11:28-30

(Trench goes on to say) The distinction, then, is obvious. When our Lord promises anapausis the weary and heavy laden who come to Him (Mt. 11:28, 29),

His promise is, that they shall cease from their toils; shall no longer spend their labor for that which satisfies not. (Ed: The corollary is that when you come to the Rest Jesus provides, you come to experience the purpose for which you were created and your "work" for Him and in Him is satisfying and of eternal value [see Jn 15:16 "your fruit should remain"].)

When Paul expresses his confidence that the Thessalonians, troubled now, should yet find anesis (relief as a cessation from some trouble or difficulty, relaxation) in the day of Christ (2Th 1:7 uses anesis), he anticipates for them, not so much cessation from labour, as relaxation of the chords of affliction, now so tightly drawn, strained and stretched to the uttermost. It is true that this promise and that at the heart are not two, but one; yet for all this they present the blessedness which Christ will impart to his own under different aspects, and by help of different images; and each word has its own fitness in the place where it is employed. (Trench, R. C. - Synonyms of the New Testament - online)

Anapausis describes an inward rest while laboring, whereas anesis indicates a relaxation brought about by a source other than oneself.

Rest for you souls is a quotation from Jeremiah...

Thus says the Lord, “Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; and you will find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’ (Jer 6:16).

Comment: The same dynamic occurs today - if we refuse to come to Jesus, to take His yoke and to learn from Him, then we too will not experience the good way in which our soul finds His promised rest!

John MacArthur notes that the English dictionary has several definitions that are wonderful parallels for the spiritual rest that Jesus gives as we trust in Him...

First, the dictionary describes rest as cessation from action, motion, labor, or exertion. In a similar way, to enter God’s rest is to cease from all efforts at self-help in trying to earn salvation.

Comment: As you read these definitions of rest understand that they apply not only to our initial salvation experience by grace through faith, but to our daily walk by the Spirit, a walk that is also by grace through faith. Too many followers of Christ think that now that they are justified, they can now rely on their self efforts to live the Christian life. Nothing could be further from the truth and undoubtedly accounts for many saints ceasing to diligently work out their salvation -- they have become weary and exhausted because they have trusted in self not Savior nor His Spirit. In short, self reliance is a major gospel enemy. A supernatural life (which is by definition what the Christian life is to be) requires a supernatural Source of power, and that power is found only in the indwelling Spirit of Christ.

Second, rest is described as freedom from that which wearies or disturbs. Again we see the spiritual parallel of God’s giving His children freedom from the cares and burdens that rob them of peace and joy.

Third, the dictionary defines rest as something that is fixed and settled. Similarly, to be in God’s rest is to have the wonderful assurance that our eternal destiny is secure in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. It is to be freed from the uncertainties of running from philosophy to philosophy, from religion to religion, from guru to guru, hoping somehow and somewhere to discover truth, peace, happiness, and eternal life.

Fourth, rest is defined as being confident and trustful. When we enter God’s rest we are given the assurance that “He who began a good work in [us] will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6).

Finally, the dictionary describes rest as leaning, reposing, or depending on. As children of God, we can depend with utter certainty that our heavenly Father will “supply all [our] needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19).

Souls (5590)(psuche or psyche from psucho = to breathe, blow, English = psychology, "study of the soul") is the breath, then that which breathes, the individual, animated creature. However the discerning reader must understand that psuche is one of those Greek words that can have several meanings, the exact nuance being determined by the context. It follows that one cannot simply select of the three main meanings of psuche and insert it in a given passage for it may not be appropriate to the given context. The meaning of psuche is also contingent upon whether one is a dichotomist or trichotomist. Consult Greek lexicons for more lengthy definitions of psuche as this definition is only a brief overview. (Click an excellent article on Soul in the Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology; see also ISBE article on Soul)

AS SMART AS AN OX! - On one occasion F B. Meyer visited D. L. Moody in Northfield, Massachusetts. Moody, showing Meyer a team of oxen, said that whenever one of those oxen was being yoked in, the other, which might be on the far side of the farmyard, would come trotting up and stand beside the other one until it was yoked in also.

Meyer then made this encouraging application to us in our relationship to Christ: `Jesus stands today with the yoke upon His shoulder. He calls to each one and says, `Come and share My yoke, and let us plow together the long furrow of your life. I will be a true yokefellow to you. The burden shall be on Me.

When our burden seems heavy and our loads hard to bear, Christ has promised to lift our burdens and lighten our cares. That's how we find rest and peace in every area of life. —Richard W De Haan

WALKING WITH THE GUIDE - As Sarah Smiley was preparing to descend a 5,000 foot Rigi Mountain peak in central Switzerland, her guide told her that she should let him carry her load. She agreed to give some of it to him, but she kept a few items. As they made their way down the mountainside, Sarah felt hindered by her load. Soon she had to stop and rest. When she did, her guide demanded that she give him everything except her Alpine walking stick. This time she agreed and transferred the load to his strong shoulders. Without the extra weight, she made the rest of the trip with ease. It was as if her Lord was trying to say to her, "O foolish, willful heart, have you indeed given up your last burden? You have no need to carry them, or even the right."

How often we are just like Sarah Smiley! When we face a difficulty, we carry the burden by ourselves. God invites us to cast all of our cares on Him, and He is strong enough to shoulder the burden. Let's take Him up on the offer. Our pathway will be easier and our steps lighter. —P. R. Van Gorder

Our work is to cast care.
God's work is to take care.

COME APART AND REST OR YOU'LL COME APART - Greek legend tells us that in ancient Athens a man noticed the great storyteller Aesop playing childish games with some little boys. The observer laughed and jeered at Aesop for this undignified behavior. Instead of replying, Aesop picked up a bow that he sometimes used for playing a stringed instrument. He unstrung it and laid it on the ground. Then he said to the critical Athenian, "Now, answer the riddle, if you can, and tell us what the unstrained bow implies." The man could not tell him. He had no idea what it meant. Aesop explained, "If you keep a bow always bent, it will break eventually; but if you let it go slack, it will be more fit for use when you want it."

Its like that with people too. That's why we need to take time to rest—when the bow of life can be relaxed. God "rested from all His work" (Gen. 2:3). Shouldn't we follow His example? You can't do your best for the Lord if you don't rest a while. —P R. Van Gorder

Matthew 11:30 FOR MY YOKE IS EASY AND MY BURDEN IS LIGHT: ho gar zugos mou chrestos kai to phortion mou elaphron estin (3SPAI):

Greek:  ho gar zugos mou chrestos kai to phortion mou elaphron estin. (3SPAI)

Amplified: For My yoke is wholesome (useful, good—not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)

Barclay:  for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Westminster Press)

ESV:  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

NLT:  For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” (NLT - Tyndale House)

Phillips: For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Phillips: Touchstone)

Wuest:  for my yoke is mild and pleasant, and my load is light in weight. 

Young's Literal: for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.'

  • Yoke: Pr 3:17 Micah 6:8 Acts 15:10,28 Gal 5:1,18 1Jn 5:3
  • Burden : Jn 16:33 2Co 1:4,5 4:17 12:9,10 Php 4:13
  • Matthew 11 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

'Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus
Midi with all lyrics
Sung by Casting Crowns
Sung by Alan Jackson
Yes, 'tis sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just from sin and self to cease;
Just from Jesus simply taking
Life and REST and joy and peace.
— Stead

For (gar) is a term of explanation and should always prompt a response, an interaction with the living and active Word of God. Too often we read the text passively and miss the joy and exhilaration of interacting with God's Word, which is the Father's love letter to us, a letter meant not so much to make us more "educated" but to draw us to Himself and make us more intimate with Him. As C H Spurgeon once said "If you wish to know God you must know his Word." Dear student of God's Holy Word, let me encourage you to make great use of these opportunities to pause, reflect and in essence learn the blessed practice of meditating on the Scriptures as you interrogate words like "for" (there are over 7000 "for's" in the Scripture providing abundant "opportunity" for interaction, practice, edification and blessing - see Ps 1:1-note, Ps 1:2-note, Ps 1:3-note, cp Joshua 1:8-note) asking simple questions like "What is the 'for' there for?", "Why is it here?". etc. The more you practice the art of asking the Scripture questions, the more you will find yourself experiencing the joy of self discovery, as your Teacher the Spirit interacts with you and illuminates the passage. Then, when you read the commentary (including the one you are reading now), you can be a good Berean (Acts 17:11-note) and discern truth from error (cp Hebrews 5:14-note). A shrinking of your study time of the Holy Word may result in "shrinking power" from Holy Spirit in your life for He uses the Word to sanctify you by grace through faith! The church needs more men like John Wesley, the powerful eighteenth-century preacher who wrote...

I am a creature of a day, passing through life as an arrow through the air. I am a spirit, coming from God, and returning to God; just hovering over the great gulf; a few months hence I am no more seen; I drop into an unchangeable eternity! I want to know one thing—the way to heaven … God Himself has condescended to teach the way. He hath written it down in a book.

O give me that Book!
At any price, give me the book of God.

(May Wesley's tribe increase Lord. Amen!)

My yoke is easy and My load is light - What a striking contrast between Jesus and the oppresive Pharisees (See Mt 23:4).

William MacDonald's - Jesus’ yoke is easy; it does not chafe. Someone has suggested that if Jesus had had a sign outside His carpenter’s shop, it would have read, “My yokes fit well.” (MacDonald, W & Farstad, A. Believer's Bible Commentary: Thomas Nelson)

Yoke (pair of scales)(2218) (zugos/zygos related to verb zeúgnuni = to join especially by a yoke, to bind) literally described a beam of balance that connected scales (see translation as scales or balances in Rev 6:5;Lev 19:36; Hos 12:7).

BDAG and Liddell-Scott summary of zugos/zygos...

(1) Anything which joins two bodies; and so, the yoke or cross-bar tied by the yoke-band to the end of the pole, and having collars or loops at each end, by which two horses, mules or oxen drew the plough or carriage, Homer, etc.:-metaphorically, the yoke of slavery (as mentioned in the Greek classics like Herodotus, etc) A frame used to control working animals or, in the case of humans, to expedite the bearing of burdens. Yoke in our literature only figuratively of any burden.

Zugos was the name of the cross-bar joining the horns of the lyre, along which the strings were fastened.

Zugos in plural described the thwarts (structural crosspiece forming a seat for a rower in a boat) joining the opposite sides of a ship or boat, the benches.

Zugos was used for the middle of the three banks in a trireme (an ancient galley having three banks of oars).

Zugos described a a rank (a single line of soldiers or police officers drawn up abreast) or line of soldiers, opposite to a file (a row of soldiers arranged one behind the other)

(2) An instrument for determining weight = a scale, the beam of balance, the balance itself. (Rev 6:5)

What is the yoke in context of Mt 11:29? Is it not His teaching, His teaching which is calculated to make disciples? As discussed in the notes on the previous passage, to “take a yoke” in Jesus' day meant to become a disciple. When we submit ourselves voluntarily and willingly and wholly to Jesus Christ, we are yoked to Him. And this is a "forever" yoking! Hallelujah!

Zugos/zygos - 6x in 6v in the NAS - pair of scales(1), yoke(5).

Matthew 11:29 "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.

Matthew 11:30 "For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."

Acts 15:10 See notes below

Galatians 5:1 See notes below

1 Timothy 6:1 All who are under the yoke as slaves are to regard their own masters as worthy of all honor so that the name of God and our doctrine will not be spoken against.

Revelation 6:5 When He broke the third seal, I heard the third living creature saying, "Come." I looked, and behold, a black horse; and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand.

Zugos/zygos - 46v in the non-apocryphal Septuagint - Gen 27:40; Lev 19:35; 26:13 (" I broke the bars of your yoke and made you walk erect"); Num 19:2; Deut 21:3; 2Chr 10:4, ("Your father made our yoke hard") 2 Chr 10:9ff (‘Lighten the yoke which your father put on us’"), 2Chr 10:14; Job 6:2; 31:6; 39:10; Ps 2:3; 62:9; Pr 11:1 ("A false balance is an abomination to the LORD"); Pr 16:11; 20:23; Isa 5:18; 9:4; 10:27; 14:5, 25, 29; 40:12, 15; 46:6; 47:6; Jer 2:20 ("“For long ago I broke your yoke And tore off your bonds; But you said, ‘I will not serve!’"); Jer 5:5; 27:8, 11; 28:2, 4, 11, 14; 30:8; 32:10; Lam 3:27; Ezek 5:1; 34:27; 45:10; Dan 5:27; 8:25; Hos 12:7; Amos 8:5; Mic 6:11; Zeph 3:9;

My yoke - Not the yoke of the legalists of Jesus day, but His yoke of grace. Jesus' yoke is diametrically different from the yoke that men cruelly place upon other men! His grace laden yoke brings liberty, releasing the captive and setting free the downtrodden (Lk 4:18, 19). The legalistic yoke of men brings bondage, which steals the joy of our salvation (cp Neh 8:10, Ps 51:12, Ps 51:14-note). Every morning, we need to arise and make the prayerful choice to take up and put on Jesus' light, easy, grace-filled yoke and experience His liberating joy and peace throughout the day as His Spirit enables us to live as those who know the truth and are free indeed (Ps 95:1-note, Ps 118:15-note, Isaiah 12:3-note, Jn 8:31, 32, 36)!

Here are passages that speak of the placing of men's yokes upon other men...

Acts 15:10 (Peter speaks boldly Acts 15:7 [a clear sign he is filled with/controlled by the Spirit - cp Acts 4:8, Eph 5:18-note, notice the first "indicator" of being Spirit filled - Eph 5:19-note - He controls our tongue!]) "Now therefore why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples (specifically the Gentiles - notice what believers are called most often in Acts! Disciples [see study of the word Mathetes]! Why have we veered away from this pattern presented by the early church? Do we think Jesus' requirements for a genuine disciple are too burdensome?! See 1Jn 5:3) a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? (Answer? Only Jesus could bear the yoke of the law [Mt 5:17-note, cp the Messianic Ps 42:6,7,8], a burden He willingly bore for all who would believe on Him.)

Galatians 5:1 It was for freedom (eleutheria - not the right to do as you please but the power to do as you should!) that Christ set us free (eleutheroo); therefore keep standing firm (present imperative - Make this your daily practice. Remember though...don't try to do it alone, but each and every morning make a conscious, volitional surrender to the Spirit of Christ, Who will be your continual Encourager and Enabler throughout the day!) and do not be subject again (present imperative with the negative particle = Stop allowing yourselves to be entangled by the cords of legalism, including subtle lists [whether on paper or in your mind] of "do's and don'ts") to a yoke of slavery (bondage to the law, to works "righteousness", to trying to gain God's approval by being good [Only God is good enough! Lk 18:19], by performing "good deeds " [You can't without reliance on the Spirit! cp 2Cor 3:5,6-note, Jn 6:63]). Galatians 5:2 Behold (ide = imperative of eido = to know by perception, by sight) I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision (or try to keep your list of do's and don'ts, etc), Christ will be of no benefit to you.


Easy (5543) (chrestos from chraomai = furnish what is needed) conveys the basic meaning of being well adapted to fulfill a purpose and thus describes that which is useful, suitable, excellent, serviceable. The idea is goodness combined with a nuance of ‘serviceableness.' (as in Luke 5:39 where the old wine is "good enough" - fine for use). Chrestos refers to that which is fit for use, able to be used and hence is good, kind, benevolent, worthy, useful, virtuous, and pleasant (in contrast to what is hard, harsh, bad or unprofitable). Chrestos expresses the material usefulness of things with regard to their goodness, pleasantness and softness.

And so we see that Jesus' yoke is chrestos, well-fitting and tailor-made for each believer and their every need. Christ's yoke furnishes what is useful, easy to bear, having nothing galling or harsh, but, to the contrary, it provides us all that we need, what we really need! Do you truly believe that statement? Do you believe that Jesus is enough? ...That His grace is sufficient for all of your needs, your weaknesses [2Cor 12:9-note] ...enough for your victory over the besetting sin that so easily entangles you, impeding your walk of faith [Heb 12:1-note]? Then fix your eyes upon Jesus [Heb 12:2-note], take up His easy yoke, and walk forth in confidence and conviction that He has already won the battle for you dear saint! (See this principle throughout Scripture - 1Sa 2:9, 17:47, 2Chr 20:15, 17, 32:8, Ps 46:11, Zech 4:6, Dt 20:1, 4, Josh 10:42 - see below for Charles Haddon Spurgeon's exhortation and Martin Luther's encouraging hymn)

Spurgeon - Unless the Spirit of God (Spirit of Christ, our "Fellow Yoke Bearer" Ro 8:9-note) be upon us, we have no might from within and no means from without to rely upon. Wait upon the Lord, beloved (Isa 40:31-note), and seek strength from Him alone. There cannot come out of you what has not been put into you. You must receive and then give out.

A Mighty Fortress
Martin Luther

Did we in our own strength confide,
Our striving would be losing;

Were not the right Man on our side,
The Man of God’s own choosing;
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His name,
From age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.
A Mighty Fortress by Steve Green

Adam Clarke comments on "My yoke is easy"...

My Gospel imposes nothing that is difficult; on the contrary, it provides for the complete removal of all that which oppresses and renders man miserable, viz. sin. The commandments of Christ are not grievous. Hear the whole: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and thy neighbor as thyself. (Mk 12:29, 30) Can any thing be more congenial to the nature of man than love? Such a love as is inspired by God (and empowered by God-Ro 5:5-note, Gal 5:22-note), and in which the soul rests supremely satisfied and infinitely happy? Taste, and know, by experience, how good the Lord is (Ps 34:8-note), and how worthy His yoke is to be taken, borne, and loved. This most tender invitation of the compassionate Jesus is sufficient to inspire the most DIFFIDENT (doubting of another's power, disposition, sincerity or intention!) soul with CONFIDENCE (A trusting or reliance. An assurance of mind or firm belief in the integrity, stability or veracity of Jesus and His precious Word promising His personal presence and power!)

Clarke's comments beg the question dear child of the Living God...are you...


Burden (cargo, load) (5413) (phortion from phortos = something carried, used of the freight of a ship Acts 27:10) is literally that which is carried. It is an old word used for a ship's cargo (Acts 27:10). A load or burden.

Liddell Scott says a secular use of phortion was of a child in a womb (Xenophon). Phortion is the pack a soldier is expected to carry.

Phortion is used figuratively in a positive sense to describe the commands of Christ (three commands here in Mt 11:30 = come...take...learn), but in a negative sense to describe the ceremonial observances of human traditions and stipulations (Mt 23:4, Lk 11:46).

Phortion can also describe the burden of one’s own responsibilities and failures (Gal 6:5).

Baker's Evangelical Dictionary - In the New Testament phortion [ φορτίον ], the Greek word used for burden, denotes the troubles of this life. In Matthew 23:4 Jesus describes the heavy burdens the Pharisees laid upon the people "but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them." Obviously this is a burden of legalism. This same Greek word is used to describe a man's load of imperfections and sins in Galatians 6:5 . Jesus uses the same word to describe his burden in Matthew 11:30 : "My yoke is easy and my burden is light." The reason for having a light burden is described in the previous verse: "I am gentle and humble in heart." Burdens will come in this life but they will be light if we have Jesus' approach to life. (Burden - Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology)

TDNT - 1. This word has such senses as “freight,” “lading,” “burden,” “goods,” and a child in the womb. “Burdening” with cares, sickness, etc. is another sense. 2. The OT equivalent šd has such senses as “bearing,” “burden,” “tribute,” “toll,” or “trouble.” 3. The LXX uses phortíon for “burden” (Is. 46:1), “burden of sin” (Ps. 38:4), the “burden” one person is for another (Job 7:20), and “load” (of wood) (Jdg. 9:48-49). 4. The rabbis use the Hebrew in various ways for “bearing,” “business,” “occupation,” “burden,” “obligation,” or “duty.”

Burden (Webster) = something that is carried (a load); That which is borne with labor or difficulty; that which is grievous, wearisome, worrisome or oppressive. Something that is exacting, oppressive, or difficult to bear: the burden of responsibility. A cause of hardship, worry, or grief.

Load (Webster) = something that weighs down the mind or spirits (took a load off her mind) b : a burdensome or laborious responsibility. Any heavy burden; a large quantity borne or sustained. A tree may be said to have a load of fruit upon it.. That which is borne with pain or difficulty; a grievous weight; encumbrance.

John MacArthur - Baros in Gal 6:2 is a strong word, which means “a heavy weight”; whereas phortion in Gal 6:5 refers to anything that is easily carried. It was often used of the general obligations of life that a person is responsible to bear on his own. One of those obligations is to help others with their crushing burdens, a kindness that will reap eternal rewards. (The Master's plan for the church).

W E Vine - Phortion which, with the exception of Acts 27:10, is used only in a metaphorical sense in the New Testament; of discipleship, whether of the scribes, Pharisees, and lawyers, Matthew 23:4; Luke 11:46, or of the Lord Jesus, Matthew 11:30. The difference between baros, Gal 6:2, and phortion is that phortion, as its derivation from phero, “to carry,” shows, is something borne; be the load light or heavy, its weight is not the point. With baros, on the other hand, weight is the essential thing. Thus phortion is used in Matthew 11:30, “My burden is light,” where baros would be unsuitable. The burden of the transgressor is of necessity a heavy one, hence baros appears in Gal 6:2; but the burdens that all must bear are some lighter, some heavier, the point is that, heavy or light, each must bear his own; hence in Gal 6:5 phortion is used. (Vine, W. Collected writings of W. E. Vine. Nashville: Thomas Nelson)

Wuest - The word burden in Gal 6:2 is baros, and in this verse, phortion. While these words have their distinctive meaning in the secular usage of the early centuries, and while synonyms in juxtaposition should usually be carefully distinguished, yet we cannot draw a fine distinction between these two words in this passage. There is no use burdening the English reader with the various meanings of the two words, since they would have no bearing upon our study. In Gal 6:2 the apostle exhorts the Galatian saints to bear the burdens of their fellow saints, namely, to assume the responsibility of giving that saint spiritual aid in case he has allowed sin to come into his experience. Here he exhorts the saints to bear their own burdens. This is doubtless an intentional paradoxical antithesis on the part of the apostle. It is the Christian who knows that he has a burden of his own, namely, a susceptibility to certain sins, and who has fallen himself, who is willing to bear his neighbor’s burden. Again, when each man’s self-examination reveals infirmities of his own, even though they may not be the same as those of his neighbors, he will not claim moral and spiritual superiority to others. Furthermore, each saint should bear his own burden in the sense that he must recognize his personal responsibilities towards God and man. He is responsible for the kind of life he lives. Again, when he sees his own failings, he will have no inclination to compare himself with others. The word own is from idios, which means “pertaining to one’s self, one’s own as compared to that which is another’s.” It speaks of personal, private, unique possession. (Wuest's word studies from the Greek New Testament)

Phortion - 6x in 5v. NAS = burden(1), burdens(3), cargo(1), load(1).

Matthew 11:30 "For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."

Matthew 23:4 "They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men's shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger.

Luke 11:46 But He said, "Woe to you lawyers as well! For you weigh men down with burdens hard to bear, while you yourselves will not even touch the burdens with one of your fingers.

Acts 27:10 and said to them, "Men, I perceive that the voyage will certainly be with damage and great loss, not only of the cargo and the ship, but also of our lives."

Galatians 6:5 For each one will bear his own load.

Phortion - in the non-apocryphal Septuagint (Lxx)- 2Sa 19:35; Job 7:20; Ps 38:4; Isa 46:1. For example David records...

Psalm 38:4 For my iniquities are gone over my head; As a heavy burden (Hebrew = massa; Lxx = phortion) they weigh too much for me.


Comment: Indeed Jesus says to all with the unbearable "heavy burden" of iniquity to "Come to Me". (Jesus bore the "burden" of our iniquity - Isaiah 53:4).

Jesus contrasts "heavy-laden", burdened (phortizo) men with His light burden (phortion). Did you notice the seemingly paradoxical call of Jesus to an already weary and burdened man or woman to take on a new load, and that in order that they might receive rest! Only Jesus can orchestrate such a supernatural feat. Praise His Holy Name!

The burden of doing His will is not a heavy one as John explains "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome (oppressive, worrisome). (1Jn 5:3).

Beloved, is not Jesus' call to come similar to Jehovah's call to cast our burden in Psalm 55:22. May we all be quick to humble ourselves and willingly cast our burden on Jehovah. What are the promises Jehovah gives us when we cast our burden on Him?

Cast your burden (Lxx translates with merimna = anxiety) upon the LORD,
and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.

(Psalm 55:22-note)

Are you trying to carry the burden by yourself dear Christian? Hear and heed Jesus' call to you to release it to Him and to walk yoked to Him so that you might enter His perfect rest for your soul.

William MacDonald commenting on Jesus' light burden clarifies that "This does not mean that there are no problems, trials, labor, or heartaches in the Christian life. But it does mean that we do not have to bear them alone. We are yoked with One Who gives sufficient grace for every time of need. To serve Him is not bondage but perfect freedom."


J. H. Jowett says: The fatal mistake for the believer is to seek to bear life’s load in a single collar. God never intended a man to carry his burden alone. Christ therefore deals only in yokes! A yoke is a neck harness for two, and the Lord himself pleads to be One of the two. He wants to share the labor of any galling task. The secret of peace and victory in the Christian life is found in putting off the taxing collar of “self” and accepting the Master’s relaxing “yoke.”

Light (1645) (elaphros) means not heavy, easy to bear, not burdensome, not difficult to bear, having little weight, easy to be lifted, borne or carried by physical strength. In the present passage the idea of "light" is that which is not oppressive and thus is easy to be endured. Other synonyms: lightweight, slight, easy, trifling, trivial (albeit when we are experiencing them, they are not "trivial" to us!), manageable, small, featherweight, "light as a feather"

The only other NT use is by Paul in his description of affliction, writing that...

momentary, light (elaphros) affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison (2Cor 4:17-note)

Observe the striking contrast of sinful man's futile attempt to keep the law in his own strength...

And they (Scribes and Pharisees Mt 23:2 - masters of the art of legalism not liberty) tie up heavy loads, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger. But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries, and lengthen the tassels of their garments. (Mt 23:4, 5)

William Barclay writes: To the Jew religion was a thing of endless rules. A man lived his life in a forest of regulations which dictated every action of his life. He must listen forever to a voice which said, “Thou shalt not.”

Beloved, perhaps that is the way you are trying to live your Christian life, by the repeated cry in your head of "Thou shalt not!" Jesus came to set us free from the bondage by the law. As Paul asked the Galatians...

This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? (Galatians 3:2,3)

Comment: The clear implication is that we are born again by the Spirit (Jn 3:3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8) by grace through faith. As believers now we are to continue relying on the Spirit's power to live this supernatural life (see Gal 5:16).

Guzik comments that in this passage...

Jesus summarizes this wonderful call with this. The yoke is light and the burden is easy because He bears it with us. When training a new animal (such as an ox) to plow, ancient farmers would often yoke it to an older, stronger, more experienced animal who would bear the burden and guide the young animal through his learning. If your yoke is hard and your burden is heavy, then it isn't His yoke or burden, and you aren't letting Him bear it with you. Jesus said it plainly: My yoke is easy and My burden is light.

To the lawyers Jesus declared...

Woe (Interjection announcing disaster, misery, grief or indignation) to you lawyers as well! For (Why? Always stop and interrogate each term of explanation) you weigh men down with burdens hard to bear, while you yourselves will not even touch the burdens with one of your fingers. (Luke 11:46)