New Defender's Study Bible Notes
11:2 in the prison. John had been imprisoned by Herod soon after he had baptized Jesus and had directed his own disciples to follow Christ (note also Matthew 4:12; John 1:35-36). John had rebuked Herod’s adultery (Matthew 14:3-4), and had been imprisoned because of this. Apparently his remaining disciples still had access to him, for Herod still respected John and his influence.
11:3 Art thou he. John had clearly identified Jesus as the Messiah, as the Son of God, and as the Savior (John 1:25-34), but the sufferings of his unjust imprisonment had possibly clouded his thinking. Perhaps he assumed Christ should have saved him from Herod. On the other hand, he may have had an entirely different reason for this question. See note on Luke 7:19.
11:10 my messenger. The Lord here is quoting Malachi 3:1, confirming the unique nature and mission of John the Baptist.
11:11 not risen a greater. Thus, John was greater than Noah, Job, Abraham, Moses, David, Daniel, or any other of the ancient men of God. It is remarkable that John has been so largely ignored by modern expositors.
11:11 greater than he. Since Old Testament believers will surely participate in the coming kingdom, this comment of the Lord’s must relate to the future state of all who share in the kingdom of heaven. In that day, they will have resurrected bodies like that of Christ Himself, and even conform to His moral perfection.
11:12 suffereth violence. When John the Baptist came preaching the kingdom of heaven, he also came condemning sin and urging repentance and baptism to a new life. Some responded positively, but more reacted violently, as is often true when the gospel is preached. Those who react against the gospel would destroy the kingdom of heaven if they could, but must settle for destroying as many of its servants as they can. John himself was soon put to death, as was Christ and eventually the apostles, as well as multitudes of Christ’s followers through the centuries.
11:13 until John. John was not the last of the Old Testament prophets, as some have thought, but the first of the New Testament prophets. See note on Matthew 3:1.
11:14 this is Elias. John the Baptist came “in the spirit and power of Elias” (Luke 1:17). He was not Elijah (Elias), however, nor was he received as Elijah. In fact, after John’s martyrdom, Jesus renewed the promise of Malachi 4:5 that “Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things” (Matthew 17:11).
11:15 let him hear. This challenge to heed Christ’s words appears eight times in the gospels and seven times in Revelation.
11:22 day of judgment. As in Matthew 10:15, Jesus indicates here that there will be degrees of punishment in hell, and that the relative “light” received is even more important than the actual measure of wickedness in assigning the degree of punishment.
11:25 the wise and prudent. Wisdom and prudence are honored attributes by the world and its leaders, but they are incapable in themselves of producing spiritual understanding. Note I Corinthians 1:19-21. Nevertheless, God has “abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence” (Ephesians 1:8), if we receive them from His Word with the believing trust of little children.
11:30 easy. “Easy” could better be rendered “kind.” A yoke is normally cruel and painful, but the yoke of Christ is kind.