Understanding The Bible
Clarence E. Mason's "MATTHEW"
I. The Kingdom POSTPONED 12:46-28:20
(and the Church DISCLOSED)
BY THE AUTHOR
Dr. Clarence E. Mason, Jr.
Philadelphia College of Bible
- THE KINGDOM POSTPONED 12:46-28:20 (and the Church
- From the King's rejection to the King's return to
(What will happen during the period of the King's rejection, through most of
which period He will be away in heaven?)
The bases and principles upon which the Kingdom in Manifestation will be
governed, during His 1000-year reign on earth, are stated by our Lord in the
great Manifesto of the Kingdom (or the Code of the Kingdom) in Matthew 5-7.
This proffered kingdom was, however, rejected with blasphemy of the Holy
Spirit by the responsible leaders of the Jewish people, as recorded in
Matthew 11 and 12. As a result of this rejection, the kingdom was, for a
time, put in abeyance. (It is said to have been morally rejected by these
religious leaders of the Jews, as recorded in Matthew 12, and officially
confirmed in the very fact of His crucifixion).
By this we mean that the kingdom which Jesus offered, and which was then
rejected, will be set up on earth in a day yet future (see 25:31; 19:28),
when Christ returns to earth (24:3, 27, 30, 44; 25:19, 31). At that time
there will be the repentance of a substantial remnant of Israel (23:37-39;
Hosea 6:1-3; Zech. 12:10; 13:6, 8-9).
During the present period of the King's rejection, a form of the kingdom,
which had never been revealed in the Old Testament, is here revealed as
running its course. It is called "the mysteries of the kingdom" (13:11). The
word "mysteries" signifies "sacred secrets hitherto hidden." These things,
not necessarily mysterious but previously unrevealed (w. 16-17, 34-35), are
announced by our Lord here in Matthew 13 for the first time. From this point
on in Matthew, while closing up His dealings with Israel, He is looking
forward to His Church. The Church is not named as such here but is for the
first time in this gospel in 16:18.
There are four portions of the notes on this chapter (plus
IV, "Kingdom of Heaven" and "Kingdom of God"
Synonymous"). They are: a Summary,
an Exposition, General
Principles, and a Chronological Preview of "the
Kingdom in Mystery."
SUMMARY OF CHAPTER 13
- The SETTING: Christ's symbolic action 12:46-13:2
He turns from fleshly ties ("family" and "house" of Israel) to spiritual ties
("whosoever" ... "multitudes" by the seaside, i.e., believers from all
- The SERMON: Seven parables of
the Kingdom in "mystery" form 13:3-50. Here is a form of the kingdom never
before revealed. "Mysteries" = sacred secrets hitherto hidden of the "Kingdom
of Heaven" (or God) which are revealed as taking place during the period of
the King's rejection prior to His return to reign (which will be the "Kingdom
in Manifestation," that form of the kingdom revealed in hundreds of Old
Testament passages). The sermon is in two divisions. Our Lord addresses the
- The SEQUEL: We are to be
faithful stewards of "the mysteries" 13:51-52 (1 Cor. 4:1-2)
EXPOSITION OF DETAILS OF THE SERMON 13:3-50
- To the MULTITUDE 13:3-35 (four parables) 3-23
- Parable One: Parable of the SOILS 3-23
Varying reactions of hearts to the seed (Word of God) of Sower (Christ). The
Sower and the seed are the same in each of these four instances. It is the
soils that vary.
- The parable 3-9
- The parenthesis: (A question and answer) 10-17
The key to the tremendous significance of the parables (17).
- The parable's interpretation (by Christ Himself) 18-23
The four kinds of soils (hearts) represent: HARD-hearted;
FAINT-hearted; HALF-hearted; and HONEST-hearted.
- Parable Two: Parable of the TARES (i.e., darnel) 24-30
(Compare Explanation, vv. 36-43)
field (world -- not just Israel);
good seed-wheat (believers);
tares (children of devil);
harvest (end of age);
furnace (Lake of Fire).
Observe that all points of parable are interpreted as symbols and explained,
- Parable Three: Parable of the MUSTARD TREE 31-32
Abnormal growth (Christendom's expansion under Constantine, etc.);
tree (pride and pretension of men, Dan. 4:20-22, 27);
birds (wicked men, mistaking Christendom -- the tree -- for a monstrosity, a
pretentious worldly organization, and feeling at home in it).
- Parable Four: Parable of the LEAVEN 33
Leaven -- see Scofield note (evil doctrine);
meal (pure doctrine concerning person and work of Christ);
woman (in this case, an evil woman representing an evil system, because she
is assisting the spread of evil doctrine).
Parenthesis: A further explanation concerning the method and content of His
message to the multitude 34-35
- To the DISCIPLES 13:36-52 (three parables)
- Parable Five: Parable of the HID TREASURE 44
treasure (God's redeemed);
a man (Christ);
selleth all (He humbled Himself and gave all);
buyeth field (by cross -- 1 pet. 1:18; 2 pet. 2:1; 1 Tim. 4:10).
- Parable Six: Parable of the PEARL 45-46
seeking (Lk. 19:10);
pearl of great price (Eph. l:18c);
"sold," ... "bought" (see explanation in v. 44 notes above).
- g. Parable Seven: Parable of the DRAG-NET 47-50
"Cast into the sea" (of nations);
"every kind" (of mankind)
"gathered" (by the net of Kingdom preaching);
"when full" (when God's purpose is complete);
"good ... bad" (saved possessors and unsaved professors);
"sever wicked from just" (the opposite of the Rapture; this is Christ's
coming to earth for judgment).
THIRD: SOME GENERAL TEACHINGS OF THE CHAPTER
SHOWING CHARACTERISTICS OF THE WHOLE PERIOD OF THE KING'S REJECTION
1, 2, 7
||The Gospel will always save some but
never all (varying soils, etc.)
||There will be true and false believers
("wheat" - "tares"; "good" - "bad fish")
1, 2, 3, 4
||There will be constant opposition of
Satan ("birds," "tares," "leaven," "an enemy")
||The outward church will grow too large
for its own good, materially rather than spiritually, becoming a monstrosity
||The entire body of doctrine concerning
Christ's person and work will Be permeated with error ("leaven")
||The world will not be converted; when
the Lord returns, there will be judgment upon unbelieving professors ("bad
fish" - "tares") who are children of the wicked one ("enemy")
||There is a true body of believers
within the world for which Christ does not hesitate to give His life
||No unsaved will enter His Millennial
Reign (for He will "gather out of His kingdom all things that offend,"
||The righteous are rewarded; they reign
with Him (43)
THE ORDER OF THE PARABLES SUGGESTS A CONSECUTIVE CHRONOLOGICAL PREVIEW OF THE
WHOLE PERIOD OF THE KING'S REJECTION, similar to that
given by our Lord in Revelation 2 and 3, in His messages to the Seven Churches.
(The inner off-white box indicates the extent of the Church Age from Pentecost
to the coming of our Lord to the air. Thus, the Church Age does not cover the
whole period of the "Mysteries of the Kingdom," shown as the light blue box. The
pink box covers the time from the change in the attitudes of the leaders of the
Nation of Israel to His physical return to Earth, "From the King's Rejection to
the King's Return.") (This paragraph edited to reflect a different drawing
style from the Mason Notes original. ed)
THE SEVEN PARABLES APPEAR TO REPRESENT SEVEN PERIODS OF TIME (see numbering from
Our Lord Himself began
sowing gospel seed; He continued this later through His apostles in founding
The amazement of the
apostles at the presence of tares (false teachers) in their midst, sown by
"an enemy" (Satan, Gal. 1:6; 3:1; Col. 2:4; Acts 20:28-30; 2 Pet. 2:1).
Compare the first Church Council at Jerusalem, AD 50, Acts 15; Gal. 2:1-5.
The abnormal expansion of
outward Christendom under Constantine, when he made Christianity the state
The setting aside of the
Lord's teaching by the woman, the professed Bride of Christ (Roman Church),
through the introduction of the leaven of false doctrine (cp. Rev. 2:20).
The true Church with its
true doctrine became hidden (buried) in the world (field) during the Dark
Ages, as result of Constantine's union of the Church with the world (state)
and due to Rome's false doctrine that the Church was then reigning over the
world with the Pope as Christ's regent. Luther and other reformers recovered
the biblical truth of redemption by faith in Christ's finished work, and
thus the true Church -- Christ's blood-bought treasure -- which had been
"buried" -- was brought to light again, beginning with 1517 (date of
This is the truth of the
UNITY of the Church (it is one in God's sight). Christendom can be and is
split; God's true Church (pearl) cannot be. Its separateness from the world
is pictured by the fact that the pearl is in the sea (of nations) but
distinct from it. There is also possibly an allusion to the Rapture of the
Church, for a pearl is obtained only by taking it out of the sea. "So Christ
will take the pearl (Church) out of the world (sea).
It was during this Sixth Period that God led many of His servants to a
rediscovery of these Scripture truths, beginning with the Pietist
Reformation on the continent and reaching articulate and systematic
statement in the writings of many such men as John Nelson Darby in Great
Britain around 1840. Darby and his contemporaries did not "invent" these
emphases, as opponents have charged. They simply rediscovered something in
the Scripture from the first century, namely, the unique place the Church
holds in God's dispensational plan. They were joined by a host of men, in
and out of the various denominations in many countries, who have
increasingly refined the systematic position. A tremendous literature has
been developed through the years. This position is emphasized by our College
and summarized in the Scofield Reference Bible, edited by our first
president, who did his research midway through the period from 1840 to the
A revision of the Scofield Reference Bible was issued by Oxford in the
spring of 1967. Dr. Mason served on this Revision Committee. The New
Scofield Bible affirms this position.
THE DRAG NET
This takes place, not at
the Rapture of the Church, but at the return of Christ to the earthy at the
end of the judgments of Daniel's 70th Week (see Dan. 9). It is distinguished
from the Rapture in that the bad fish (cp. tares) are removed by judgment
from the good fish (cp. tares taken from wheat), whereas in the Rapture the
good are removed from the bad.
This is the severance of LIVING rejecters of the message concerning the
coming King (preached by Christ’s brethren -- who are doubly His brethren:
nationally, Jews; spiritually, saved), from the LIVING acceptors of their
call to repentance during the reign of Anti-Christ (cp. 25:31-46). This
judgment takes place at the close of the period of the King's rejection and
signalizes His return and reign (13:39-43; 25:31-32).
- THE CHURCH ANTICIPATED 13:53-16:20
- THE King in "His own country" 13:53-58
- A king's (Herod's) troubled conscience 14:1-14
- The King and two crowds 14:15-36
- The censure of the King 15:1-20
- The King and the Canaanite woman 15:21-28
(Key: a Gentile had no claim on Him as "son of David.")
- The King's concern for the crowd 15:29-39
- Criticism of and comments by the King 16:1-12
- THE KING'S QUESTION AND KEPHAS'S (Peter's) CONFESSION
Peter's confession--Peter distinguished our Lord as being more than a
prophet and more than a man indeed. He is God manifest in the flesh ("Son of
living God") with an original revelation, not merely rehearsing Moses and
- THE KING AND HIS CHURCH 16:17-20
Christ's reply -- "Peter, you did not arrive at this conclusion by human
shrewdness but by divine revelation. My Father revealed it to you."
Here we have the first mention in the N.T. of the word "church," from the
Greek word pronounced "eccla-see-ah," meaning "a calling out," hence,
"called out ones" or "those gathered by calling out, a congregation, an
assembly" (Souter). The Church is "called out ones" from the world (hence,
the world will not be converted, else there would be nothing left from which
the Church could be called out!). The Church is called out to the Person of
Christ, around whom they meet as an assembled congregation.
The Church is founded on the Lord Jesus Christ Himself (His person and
work-death and resurrection) There is a play on the word for stone here:
“Simon, you are a stone", Petros, masculine, an ordinary rock), but "I will
build my Church upon this massive ROCK," as it is sometimes used in the
Greek classics (Petra, feminine, i.e., the truth about me which you have
just announced with supernatural help, vv. 16-17). This will be a process
("build") First Corinthians 3:10-11, 16 makes it plain that Christ is the
ONLY foundation) and that the Church is the structure built on Him. First
Peter 2:5 shows that believers are pictured as the "living stones" which
form the spiritual temple-God's Church of this age (Eph. 2:19-22).
"And the gates of Hades shall not prevail against her." Satan is not in hell
and is not the king of hell. (That conception is Miltonic, not scriptural.)
The phrase "the gates of hell will not prevail" does not mean that the
Church will never fail or be overcome by Satan. Rather it means that the one
(Satan), who held the power of death in the OT times, was judged at the
cross (Heb. 2:14-15), and that Satan will no longer be able to usher any of
Christ's own (Church) into an intermediate state in Hades (the place of all
departed spirits before Christ's death and resurrection, cp. Lk. 16). Now,
since Christ has been victorious over death and founded the Church,
believers do not go to Hades at all, but go immediately upon death into the
presence of the Lord (2 Cor. 5:6-8, where they are said to be "at home with
Finally, the phrase "the keys of the kingdom" means that Divine authority
accompanies the preaching of the gospel. By the very terms of that gospel,
the humblest believer declares that all who reject its offer are "bound" in
their sin. Likewise, all who receive its message are given the right of glad
release, of forgiveness from sin. The emphasis is not upon the authority of
the representative (which Rome says is the priest) but the authority of the
gospel. The messenger is relatively unimportant; the message is
all-important. The Lord authorizes the messenger simply because he is the
bearer of the Divinely authenticated message!
At this point, carefully read
ADDENDUM V, "Who Is the
- THE WAY TO THE CROSS 16:21-27:39
- The crucifixion of the King foretold 16:21-27
- The (second) coming of the King foretold 16:28-17:18
Here is an incident which is also plainly a dispensational picture. First,
the cross (16:21); then the believer's self-judged life in this Church age
in the light of our union with Christ in His cross (16:22-26); then the
second coming (16:27-28), prefigured by the Transfiguration (17:1-6), which
scene is declared later by Peter to be a miniature and prophecy of the
second coming of Christ (2 Pet. 1:15-17).
Had Israel been willing to repent. God would have been willing to accept
John the Baptist's ministry in lieu of Elijah's (17:10-13; Lk. 1:17).
- The comments of the King 17:19-27
- Children and the King 18:1-14
Observe that our Lord's comments proceed from children (as such) to "one of
these little ones which believe in me" (v.6), which refers to a recently
born-again believer, whether young in physical years or not.
- Conduct of the converted in the King's Church (during the
period of His rejection by Israel) 18:15-20:28
- Forgiveness, prayer, and worship 18:15-35
- Sanctity of marriage and children 19:1-15
- The true riches of faith 19:16-30
- Service of the saints evaluated 20:1-28
- Heart willingness makes service valid 20:1-16
Quality not quantity determines reward. The parable teaches that God
gauges our service by our relative opportunity to serve.
- Jesus again announces His death and resurrection
- Sacrificial service is true greatness 20:20-28
The "baptism" referred to here is Christ's death. (Cp. Mt. 3:15 and
- The kindness of the King 20:29-34
- The crux of the King's final presentation: The challenge
of His authority 21:1-22:46
- The colt that carried a King 21:1-11
- The King censures 21:12-41
(1) Their desecration 12-17
(2) Their unbelief 18-22
(3) Their inconsistency 23-27
(4) Their disobedience 28-32
(5) Their rebellion 33-41
- The King concludes His censure by reiterating the
kingdom's postponement 21:42-22:14
(1) It is taken from them (Israel) and given to those spiritually fit
21:42-46 (cp. 12:47-50)
(2) God's grace assembles those whom Israel considers outcasts 22:1-14
- The King curbs and criticizes His critics 22:15-23:30
- Herodians answered on tribute to Caesar 22:15-22
(The party of political expediency)
- Sadducees answered on resurrection 22:23-33
(The party of skeptical religionists)
- Pharisees answered on greatest commandment 22:34-40
(The party of dead tradition)
- Jesus stalls the Pharisees with question about David's
greater Son 22:41-46
- The marks of a Pharisee 23:1-12
- Jesus pronounces woes upon the Pharisees 23:13-30
- The King voices His verdict 23:31-36
- Yet cries out with compassion 23:37-39
The city (v.37a), temple (v.38), and people (v.37b) are set aside (v.39)
until repentance is forthcoming.
D. THE KING ANSWERS QUESTIONS CONCERNING HIS COMING TO
EARTH 24-25 OLIVET DISCOURSE)
- The circumstances 24:1-2
A visit to the temple and prophecy of its
- The two questions: when and what? 24:3
There are two, not three, questions here:
- "When shall these things be?" 23:3a
(i.e., the destruction of the temple, v.2b) Matthew does not here record our
Lord's prophecy concerning the near-view destruction of the temple and of
Jerusalem by the Romans in AD 70. That near-view destruction prophecy detail
is recorded by Luke (21:12-24). Matthew deals only with the distant time of
trouble associated with armies surrounding Jerusalem, which details are also
given in the parallel passages of Mark 13 and Luke 21:8-11, 25-36.
It seems clear that certain features of Luke 21:12-24 refer to both near and
far view, particularly vv. 12-23. Luke 21:24 plainly predicts the AD 70
destruction and age-long Gentile domination of Jerusalem, which coincides
with preparing for God's ultimate purpose, as also stated in Mt. 23:38-39.
- "WHAT shall be the SIGN of Thy Coming, EVEN OF the end
(or completion) of the age?” 24:3b
This coming is not the Rapture of the Church, but our Lord's return to THE
EARTH "immediately after the tribulation of those days" (24:29; 25:31; Dan.
- The comments of the King on the SECOND of these two
- The TIME "and SIGN’S)" of Christ's return to "earth
24:4-42 (namely, at the end of the tribulation age)
- The whole seven years of Daniel's 70th "week" sketched
24:4-14 (cp. Dan. 9:24-27)
- The first half (3 1/2 yrs.) of the "week" = "The
beginning of birthpangs" 24:4-8
This is our Lord's own name for this period (v.8). The seals of
Revelation 6 correspond exactly with our Lord's words here. "The end (of
the age) is not yet" (v.6); bad as things are, only half the "week" has
transpired. The worst is yet to come.
- The last half (3 1/2 yrs.) of the "week" = "The
Tribulation the Great" (21) 24:9-14
Details are not discussed here, other than to state that intense hatred
of God's Israel (cp. 25:41-46a) will characterize this period of Jacob's
trouble. The majority ("many") of Israel will follow the false Christ(s),
but God's Israel will be delivered ("saved" in that sense) by the return
of the Lord at the end (of the age), i.e., end of the 70th "week" (Dan.
9:26b-27). When Christ returns, they will be preaching (again) "the
gospel of the kingdom" (3:2; 4:17; 10:7, 22-23).
After sketching the whole 70th "week, " our Lord goes back in detail
over the last 31/2 years, starting at the middle of the "week."
- The middle of the 70th "week" = "The Abomination of
Desolation" 24:15 This is the defiling of the restored temple by the
setting up of an image in it (Rev. 13:14-15), thus breaking the covenant
"in the midst of the week" (Dan. 9:27). This precipitates that awful
period of persecution known as the Great Tribulation (v.21).
- "The Tribulation the Great" = the last half of the 70th
"week" (further details) 24:16-24
Cp. Rev. 13:7,15-17; Dan. 9:27--read Mt. 24:21 with v. 9; w. 23-24 with
vv. 10-12; vv. 21-22 with w. 13-14. Observe the 70th "week" is definitely
associated with "thy people" and "thy city" (Dan. 9:24), i.e., Daniel's
people, the Jews, as is the emphasis of this passage (e.g., 24:20 "Sabbath
day"). Satan's subtlety will be prominent (e.g., 2 Thes. 2:6-12).
- The CLOSE of the 70th "week" = with the suddenness of
lightning 24:25-31 "The end" of vv. 13-14 = vv. 27-31; cp. 2 Thes. 1:6-10;
"Shortened" (v.22) may mean simply "terminated" = not prolonged, although
most expositors understand an actual reduction of days, something short of
7 years. Hence, no man can know the day nor hour of His return.
The close of that age will be accompanied with the repentance of those
Jews who compose God's Israel, Zech. 12:10; 13:6-7. Verse 31 refers not to
the Rapture of the Church (which includes a resurrection of dead saints, 1
Thes. 4:16-17) but to a supernatural gathering of God's living Israel on
earth when the Lord suddenly comes to earth. God's "elect" is a term
describing His chosen in any age; in this age it means the Church; in the
70th "week" the elect will be the believers (Jew and Gentile) anticipating
the King's return.
- The SIGN signalizing the chief event of the 70th "week"
(i.e., the "end time" of the age, at the close of which Christ will come
back to earth again)
Most Bible scholars see in the fig tree the REBUDDING of NATIONAL ISRAEL
in the sense of her political rebudding, as per the reconstitution of
national entity in May, 1948. Her spiritual rebudding is yet future.
Israel, though temporarily set aside during the Church age, is not
permanently rejected, but will be revivified (Ezk. 37), will yet inherit
the OT promises associated with Christ and the Kingdom (Ezk. 36:19-38;
34:11-26; 21:26-27), after God has purged out the rebels who follow
Satan's Beast and False Prophet (Ezk. 20:33-38).
- The UNEXPECTED character of His coming to earth
The time of the coming is kept in the Father's counsel (v.36; Acts 1:6-7).
In the days of Noah (vv. 37-39) the wicked were "taken" in judgment and
the righteous, in the ark, were "left" to enter the new earth. So it will
be at the close of the 70th "week." The wicked are "taken" in judgment
("purged out" -- cp. bad fish and tares severed from wheat, good fish,
13:30, 41-43, 49), while the righteous are "left" to enter the millennial
kingdom, 25:32-34, 46. This is the opposite of the Rapture, when the
righteous are "taken" to heaven, and unbelievers are "left" on earth to
the judgments of the 70th "week."
- The JUDGMENTS on those living through the tribulation
- Judgment on surviving JEWS 24:43-25:30 (cp. Ezk.
This is taught indirectly by our Lord through three parables:
- The test of LOYALTY 24:45-51
"Waiting up" for the Lord's return.
- The test of LOVE 25:1-13
The setting for this parable of the wise and unwise virgins is
important. The wedding banquet has already taken place (Lk. 12:36 R.V.)
before He returns (here) to those "watching" for Him (25:1-13; Lk.
13:35,40; cp. Lk. 12:42-48 with Mt. 24:45-51). Hence, the virgins are
not the true and false in Christendom, but the true and false in Israel,
for Christ comes back to earth with His bride (the Church) from the
Marriage Supper of the Lamb (wedding feast), Rev. 19:7-9; Lk. 12:35-37a.
- The test of LABOR. 25:14-30
Investing for the absent Lord; "occupying till" He come.
- Judgment on surviving GENTILES 25:31-46.
(i.e., when He returns to earth in glory, v.31)
- The throne set 31-32
- The decision given 33-45
- Faith proved in risking all for "the brethren"
33-40 (cp. Rev. 13:14-17)
- Unbelief proved by neglect of "the brethren" 41-45
- The eternal results to those individuals 46
NOTE: This judgment should be called "The Judgment of Gentiles" rather
than "The Judgment of the Nations," because nations do not have souls
and this is plainly a judgment of individuals (w. 45-46).
Thus, it is the judgment of the Gentiles as individuals (v. 32) at the
end of the 70th "week" when Christ returns to earth (v.31).
Two kinds of Gentiles are here seen: (1) Sheep (believers); (2) Goats
(unbelievers). The works of the "sheep" are an evidence of their faith
in the message of "the brethren." The ignoring of "the brethren" by the
"goats" is the evidence of their unbelief in the message of "the
"The brethren" are converted Jews witnessing to the coming King and
Kingdom, being doubly Christ's brethren, by flesh (Jews) and by the
Obviously, the usual interpretation is wrong, for if all men are being
divided between "sheep" and "goats," no one would be left to be the
"brethren." Also, this judgment opens the millennium, whereas the Great
White Throne Judgment closes it. Further, there is no resurrection here.
This judgment is of living men before the 1000-year reign of Christ,
while the judgment of the Great White Throne is of the unbelieving dead
after the 1000-year reign (Rev. 21:11-15).
E. THE KING'S TRIAL, CRUCIFIXION, AND RESURRECTION 26-28
- Events leading to His trial and the sentence of death
- The consultation 26:1-5
- A supper 26:6-13
- The conniving 26:14-16
- The Supper 26:17-29
- The cockcrowing 26:30-35
- The agony 26:36-46
- The kiss 26:47-56
- The King before Caiaphas 26:57-68
- The cursing of Kephas 26:69-75
- The cowardly criminal 27:1-10
- The quandary of Pilate 27:11-26
- The events of the crucifixion 27:26-66
- The cruel crown 26-31
- The crucifixion 32-50
- The consequences of the crucifixion 51-66
- The resurrection and commission 28
- The King's conquest of death 1-10
- The conspiracy to deny His resurrection 11-15
- The King's commission to go to all nations 16-20
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