Matthew Henry Picture

Matthew Henry

1662-1714

Commentary on the Whole Bible

English Presbyterian Minister

Matthew Henry

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Matthew Henry was born in England near the borders of Flintshire and Shropshire. The year was 1662, the year the Act of Uniformity was passed by the British Parliament. From 1661 to 1665, Parliament passed four acts known together as the Clarendon Code. The second of these was the Act of Uniformity. It made the use of the Book of Common Prayer compulsory in the religious services of the official Church of England. This book prescribed the form of public prayers and the administration of the sacraments. Around 2000 clergy refused to comply and were called "nonconformists." They were forced to resign their pastorates; Philip Henry, Matthew's father, was one of them. However, he had money enough to provide his son with a good education. After beginning the study of law, Matthew changed to theology. In 1687 he became the minister of a Presbyterian church in Chester.

Henry is best known for his Commentary on the Whole Bible, originally called Exposition of the Old and New Testaments. At the time of his death, he had finished only Genesis through Acts. It was completed by a number of ministers using Henry's notes. Originally published in six volumes, it is still available in that format.

The exposition itself is practical and devotional rather than critical and presents a high moral tone with simple piety and practical application. According to Spurgeon, it is both "pithy and witty." In Reformed circles, it is still one of the best-loved commentaries even today.

How was the serpent in Genesis 3 able to beguile Eve? Read Henry's analysis of this verse and then compare it with the other great exposition that we've posted by Matthew Poole.

The Serpent Speaks: Genesis 3:1

Excerpt giving Henry's commentary on the serpent addressing Eve.

Read Matthew Henry's explanation of this puzzling curse and then compare it with the other great exposition that we've posted by Matthew Poole.

Cursed Be Canaan: Genesis 9:24-26

Excerpt giving Henry's commentary on Noah's curse of Canaan.

Abraham is commanded by God to offer up his son Isaac as a burnt-offering. Read Matthew Henry's explanation and then compare it with the other great exposition that we've posted by Matthew Poole.

You can also compare the treatment of this text by Alexander Maclaren.

Abraham's Great Test: Genesis 22:1-14

Excerpt giving Henry's commentary on Abraham's faith and obedience in offering up his son Isaac.

Did you ever notice Paul's argument in Romans 9:19-20: One of you will say to me: "Then why does God still blame us? For who resists his will?" But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? "Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, 'Why did you make me like this?' " Paul takes this quote from Isaiah 29:16 and 45:9, but the essence of the argument is first made by God himself to Job.

Satan had challenged God by claiming that Job was faithful to him only because God blessed him so richly. Therefore, Satan was given permission to take all that Job had and afflict him with a horrible disease. Three friends came to console Job in his misery, but ended up accusing him of sin. Why else, they reasoned, would such a terrible disaster fall on him? Well, Job had not sinned, but he ends up sinning in his attempt to justify himself as he argued with his three "miserable comforters."

The great climax of the book is extremely exciting. God himself finally speaks to Job "out of the whirlwind": Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? (38:2-5).

The questioning goes on and on. Finally, God concludes: Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him? Let him who accuses God answer him! (40:2).

Read Matthew Henry's exposition of this amazing chapter and then compare it with the other great exposition of Job 38 that we've posted by Matthew Poole.

Job 38

Excerpt giving Henry's commentary on Job chapter 38.

Almost everyone is familiar with the Beatitudes given by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. Read Matthew Henry's explanation of these well-known verses and then compare it with the other great exposition that we've posted by Matthew Poole.

Matthew 5:1-12

Excerpt giving Henry's commentary on the Beatitudes.

A metaphor is a figure of speech in which a comparison in made without using the word "like" or "as"; an allegory is an extended metaphor. A simile is a figure of speech in which a comparison is made using the word "like" or "as"; a parable is an extended simile. The parable of the wheat and tares is one of Jesus' better known parables. But can you identify the sower, the field, the wheat, and the tares? Read Matthew Henry's explanation and then compare it with two other great expositions that we've posted, one by Matthew Poole and the other by Richard Trench.

The Wheat and the Tares: Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

Excerpt giving Henry's commentary on the Parable of the Wheat and Tares.

At one point during his ministry, Jesus said this to his disciples: "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you" (John 6:53). A hard saying? This is what many of Jesus' disciples thought too: "On hearing it, many of his disciples said, 'This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?'" (v. 60). F. F. Bruce points out in his book, The Hard Sayings of Jesus, that some of his statements are "hard" because they are hard to understand; other statements are hard because the demands they make on us are only too clear! What does Jesus mean by this statement in John 6:53? Read Matthew Henry's explanation of this parable then compare it with the other great exposition that we've posted by Matthew Poole.

A Hard Saying: John 6:60-71

Excerpt giving Henry's commentary on eating the flesh of the Son of Man and drinking his blood.

The Parable of the Unjust Steward is a difficult one. Read Matthew Henry's explanation of these well-known verses and then compare it with four other great expositions that we've posted: Matthew Poole, Richard Trench, Frederic Godet, and Richard Church.

The Unjust Steward: Luke 16:1-9

Excerpt giving Henry's commentary on Noah's curse of Canaan.

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