|"HE THAT HATH EARS TO HEAR, LET HIM HEAR." Appendix 142 To The Companion Bible.|
These words were never used by mortal man. They were heard only from the lips of Him Who spoke with Divine Authority (Matthew 7:29); and on earth only on seven distinct occasions, in order to emphasize and call attention to the utterance He had just made. This is an important example of the Figure of speech Polyptoton (Appendix 6), the repetition of the same verb in a different inflection, by which great emphasis is put upon the injunction here given. See Appendix 6, and notes on Genesis 2:17 and 26:28. The seven (Appendix 10) occasions are thus marked out for our special attention, as being what was said to ears which God had opened. 1. The first is in Luke 8:8, at the close of the first giving of the Parable of the Sower, before the formal calling and mission of the Twelve Apostles, which took place and is recorded in chapter 9:1-6. This parable was repeated on a later occasion, when it was needed to complete the setting of the eight parables which are grouped together in Matthew 13 (see Appendix 145). In this case it refers to the sowing of the good seed of the Kingdom; that is to say, its proclamation by Jehovah's servants, John the Baptist and the Lord (as further explained in the Parable of the Marriage Feast in Matthew 22:1-7). See Appendix 140. II. 2. The second occasion is recorded in Matthew 11:15, after the calling and mission of the Twelve, when we are bidden to give earnest heed to the important mission of John the Baptist, and to understand that had the people repented at his proclamation he would have been reckoned as Elijah the prophet (Malachi 4:5), in whose "spirit and power" he was to come. This was declared before his birth, in Luke 1:17. When the Lord's disciples asked Him "Why then say the scribes that Elijah must first come?" Jesus answered and said unto them, "Elijah truly (Greek men, that is to say, on the one hand) shall first come, and restore all things. But (Greek de, that is to say, on the other hand) I say unto you, That Elijah is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall the Son of man also suffer of them. Then the disciples understood that He spake unto them of John the Baptist" (Matthew 17:10-13). To "understand" this, it required the opened ear. Hence (Matthew 11:14) the Lord's words, "If ye will receive (him), this is Elijah who was about to come".
Had the nation repented, the real Elijah would indeed have come and effected "the restoration of all things, which God had spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets from of old" (Acts 3:21). The nation did not repent; therefore Malachi 4:5 still awaits its literal fulfillment, and they "who have ears to hear" will understand. 3. The third occasion of the utterance of this solemn exhortation was when the Lord, after the Mission of the Twelve, repeated the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:9), which He had spoken by itself before the Mission of the Twelve (Luke 8:8) but which He then united with seven others, to make one complete whole, revealing the coming change of dispensation. In this setting the Lord twice declared "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear": once at the end of the Parable of the Sower (see Appendix 145); 4. And again (the fourth occasion) in verse 43, at the end of the interpretation of the Parable of the Tares. Both these parables required and still require the opened ear in order to understand their dispensational teaching. 5. The fifth occasion is recorded in Mark 4:23, after the application of the illustration of the Lamp put under a measure, when the utterance is repeated to emphasize the fact that the Lord was revealing things which had been hitherto hidden, concerning the secrets of the Kingdom of heaven. 6. The sixth occasion is in Mark also (7:16), and here it is used in another connection, but with the same solemn emphasis, in order to call attention to the important truth, prefaced by the words preceding it, "Hearken unto Me everyone of you, and understand: There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man. If any man have ears to hear, let him hear" (Mark 7:14-16). 7. The seventh occasion is recorded in Luke 14:35, and is connected with true discipleship, and counting its cost. Great multitudes were following Him (verse 25), and publicans and sinners were drawing near to hear Him. But not all received what they heard. These the Lord likened unto salt which had lost its savor, which was neither fit for the land nor yet for the dunghill; but men cast it out. "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear" (Luke 14:34, 35).
This was the last occasion on earth. For the eight occasions after His ascension, see Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22; 13:9.