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served: thou thyself hast judged me in comparison with ordinary masters; I therefore do not decline it; but consider well! there is none that is good but God alone!'”

A comment like this brings us to the point of turning away altogether from the "objurgatory” interpretation of our Lord's demand, "Why callest thou me good?” It remains therefore only to read the question simply as a question, that is to say as an incitement to inquiry on the part of the questioner.77 In that case only two lines of interpretation lie open.

Either the question, along with the succeeding clause, “no one is good but one, God”, is intended to suggest to the interlocutor that Jesus is Himself divine, or else it is intended to turn attention for the moment away from Jesus altogether and focus it on God. The former line of interpretation has been taken by many and was for long indeed the ruling view.78 As so understood, so far from suggesting that our Lord is neither divine nor good, it is an assertion that He is both good and divine. Ambrose will supply us with a good example of this interpretation.79 Inveighing against the Arians who make out that our Lord

" A. Plummer, commenting on Lk. xx. 42 (p. 473) suggests that the question there may be intended only to make the Scribe think; and illustrates by a reference to our present passage: "The question 'Why callest thou Me good?' appears to serve a similar purpose. It seems to imply that Christ is not to be called good (Mk. X. 18). But it need mean no more than that a young man who addressed Jesus as 'Good Master' ought to reflect as to the significance of such language before making use of it.” He compares also Lk. xi. 19 as possibly a similar


* Cf. Schanz on Lk. xviii. 18: "The most of the Fathers, if they do not call the question an ensnaring one (versuta, Ambrose; tentans, Jerome, Cyril) and therefore look upon the reply as a repulse, arguta responsio, assume that it is meant for the young man's instruction as to the deity of Christ. Jesus, it is said, reproves the ruler for calling Him a good teacher instead of a good God.” He cites as expressing this latter view, Ambrose, Athanasius, Gregory of Nyssa, Gregory of Nanzianzus, Basil, Cyril, Chrysostom, Hilary, Jerome, Augustine, Bede. Cf. A. Plummer, on Lk. xviii. 19 (p. 422, note I), where Cyril and Ambrose are quoted and Jerome, Basil and Epiphanius referred to (with Maldonatus and Wordsworth among the commentators).

" De Fide, II, 1 (Migne, Patr. Lat., 16, col. 563; E. T., Post Nicene Fathers, second series, X, p. 226).

here denies that He is good, he asks that we consider when, where and with what circumspection our Lord speaks here. “The Son of God,” he continues, "speaks in the form of man, and He speaks to a Scribe,—to him, that is, who called the Son of God 'Good Master', but denied Him to be God. What he does not believe Christ adds, that he may believe in the Son of God, not as a Good Master but as the Good God. For, if wheresoever the 'One God' is named, the Son of God is never separated from the fullness of the Unity, how, when the one God is declared good is the Only-begotten excluded from the fullness of the divine goodness? They must therefore either deny that the Son of God is God, or confess that He is the good God. With heavenly circumspection, then, He said, not ‘No one is good but the Father only', but 'No one is good but God only'. For 'Father' is the proper name of Him who begets, but the ‘one God' by no means excludes the Godhead of the Trinity, and therefore extols the Natures: goodness is therefore in the nature of God, and in the nature of God is also the Son of God, and therefore what is predicated is not predicated of the Singularity but of the Unity. Goodness is, then, not denied by the Lord, but such a disciple is rebuked. For when the Scribe said, 'Good Master', the Lord responded, “Why callest thou me good ?' And that means, 'It is not enough to call me good whom thou dost not believe to be God. I do not seek such disciples, who rather believe in a good master according to manhood than according to Godhead the good God.”

It is not easy to turn up a modern comment moving on precisely these lines. Perhaps something like it is intended by Friedrich Köster, when he writes:80 “Should it, now, seem as if Jesus in the words, “Why callest thou me good', repels the predicate of goodness from Himself, it is already remarked by Wolf (in Curis ad h. 1.), Haec quaestio non negantis est, sed examinantis. 'Dost thou consider well, when thou callest me good, that this predicate belongs to God

$9 TSK, 1856, p. 422.

alone?' It belongs to Jesus, therefore, only by virtue of His perfect union with the Father.” And Rudolf Stier plays upon the same note amid others which go to make up his chord, when he writes:81 “Christ takes care not to say, I am not good, for One only is good, my Father.... He deals more exactly with the word than the rationalists, who 'exhaust themselves in phrases, call Him the best, noblest, most excellent, most perfect, etc.', and yet deny His divine dignity. He said then to the young ruler what He must say still more strongly to these modern panegyrists, not in kindness but in anger: 'Why callest thou me good ?' He, however, at the same time attests His divinity (although He does not speak plainly of what is concealed) when He who knew no sin affirms: 'None is good save One, that is God'.” In support, he quotes in a note82 the following dilemma: “Choose then, ye friends of reason, between these two conclusions dictated by reason itself. None is good but the one God; Christ is good; therefore Christ is the one God.

Or: none is good but the one God: Christ is not the one God; therefore Christ is not good.The sober and pregnant comment of Bengel may also find a place here. "Nevertheless," he writes, 83 “He does not say, I am not good; but, Why dost thou call me good ? Just as in Mat. xxii. 43 He does not deny that He, the Lord of David, is at one and the same time, also the Son of David. God is good: there is no goodness without Godhead. This young man perceived in Jesus the presence of goodness in some degree: otherwise he would not have applied to Him: but he did not perceive it in the full extent; otherwise he would not have gone back from Him. Much less did he recognize His Godhead. Wherefore Jesus does not accept from him the title of goodness without the title of Godhead (cf. the

81 The Words of the Lord Jesus, I, p. 360b. Cf. p. 3612: “Thou speakest with too much readiness of doing good (I too should not be good as thou thinkest, if I were a man as thou supposest).”

** From the Hom. lit. Correspondenzblatt, 1826, p. 176. He tells us that the same dilemma is well presented also in a sermon by Nitzsch.

Gnomon, on Mk. x. 18.

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'Why call ye me Lord, Lord', Lk. vi. 46); and thereby He vindicates the honor of the Father with whom He is one. See Jno. v. 19. At the same time He causes a ray of His omniscience to enter into the heart of the young man, and shows that the young man has not as yet the knowledge concerning Himself, Jesus Christ, worthy of so exalted a title, which otherwise is altogether appropriate to Him. Wherefore, He does not say, There is none good save one, that is my Father, but, There is none good save one, that is, God'. Our Lord often adjusted His words to the capacity of those who questioned Him (Jno. iv. 22).”

Most recent writers, however, who have come to see that our Lord's question is non negantis sed examinantis, have also come to see that His purpose here is not inconsequently to proclaim His own deity, but in accordance with the demands of the occasion to point the young man inquiring after a law of life to Him who had once for all proclaimed a perfect law of life.84 They have, of course varying ways of

* Cf. J. A. Dorner, Ueber Jesu Sündlosigkeit, 1862, pp. 13-14. After showing that Jesus had no intention of leading the young man to suppose that he could enter into life apart from Him, or of pointing him away from Himself when He pointed him to God, Dorner continues: “But the first thing he had need of, as Jesus saw from the light, easy way in which he used the word 'good' was self-knowledge, not the announcement of Christ's mission and dignity, for the understanding of which he still lacked the preconditions; concerning which therefore, in accordance with His method as elsewhere manifested, Jesus meanwhile preserved silence. ... The purpose of the passage is, therefore, not to deny goodness to the person of Christ, nor to make a positive declaration as to what He is, but to rebuke the frivolous attribution of goodness to a teacher at the cost of reverence to God, and by a striking declaration, which would conquer through its humility, to reveal to the young man his fundamental fault, namely that he took goodness too lightly. That Jesus intended to ascribe sinfulness to Himself is impossible, since that would be out of accord with His other self-expressions as to His redemptive vocation, both in the Synoptics and in John, and with the position He takes in the Kingdom of God. The Evangelists too, as little as the primitive church so understood Him. ..." Dorner thinks, however, that there is nevertheless intrinsic in the passage a contrast between Jesus' goodness, as human, and God's, as absolute—“since no earthly, creaturely goodness can yet be called perfect, because it is not yet perfected, and is not yet raised beyond temptations and change."

expressing the general understanding of the passage common to them all; and they inevitably bring out its implications and connections with more or less completeness, and with more or less penetration.85 The emphasis seems to be particularly well distributed in a passage in A. Schlatter's Theology of the New Testament,86 and we therefore venture to quote it here. “To him who sought from Him the Good Master, direction as to the work by which he could secure for himself eternal life, He replied that no one is good except God, but God is really good; and instead of meeting his wish and Himself giving him a commandment, He binds him to the divine commandments in their simple clearness. The desire to obtain, instead of them, a new prescription which should now for the first time assure eternal life, Jesus calls impious, a denial of God, which is made no better by being attributed to Him too. To permit Himself to be praised as good, while at the same time, or even thereby, God's goodness is denied, could not be endured by Jesus. Against this kind of religion He ever spoke as the Son who defended the goodness of the Father against every doubt, and hallowed His commandments as perfect. A glorifying of His own dignity at the cost of God's, a trust in His judgment along with distrust in God's commandments, an exalting of His own goodness along with reproaches against God—meant to Him absolute impossibility.” No doubt, there are elements in this statement which are open to criticism. But the main matter comes in it to clear announcement. Jesus' concern here is not to glorify Himself but God: it is not to give any instruction concerning His own person whatever, but to indicate the published will of God as the sole and the perfect prescription for the pleasing of God. In proportion as we wander away from this central thought, we wander away from the real meaning of the passage and misunderstand and misinterpret it.87

See above, note 23, for some of the commentators of this class. A. Schlatter, Die Theologie des NTs, I, 1909, p. 303. * Detached note on some attempts to discover a more original text than that transmitted by our Gospels, especially F. C. Conybeare's (see

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