These words were never used by mortal man.  They were heard only from the lips of Him Who spoke with Divine Authority (Matt. 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 Polyptoton (Ap. 6), the repetition of the same verb in a different inflection, by which great emphasis is put upon the injunction here given.  See Ap. 6, and notes on Gen. 2:17 and 26:28.

The seven (Ap. 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 ch 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 Matt. 13 (see Ap. 145).  In this case it refers to the sowing of the good seed of the Kingdom; i.e. its proclamation by Jehovah's servants, John the Baptist and the Lord (as further explained in the Parable of the Marriage Feast in Matt. 22:1-7).  See Ap. 140. II.

  2. The second occasion is recorded in Matt. 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 (Mal. 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 much first come?"  Jesus answered and said unto them, "Elijah truly (Gr. men, i.e. on the one hand) shall first come, and restore all things.  But (Gr. de, i.e. 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." (Matt. 17:10-13).  To "understand" this, it required the opened ear.  Hence (Matt. 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 Mal. 4:5 still awaits its literal fulfilment, 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 (Matt. 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 Ap. 145);

  4. And again (the fourth occasion) in v. 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 4:32, 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 (v. 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 savour, 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 Rev 2:7, 11, 17, 29;  3:6, 13, 22; 13:9.

Appendix List

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