And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with you, Jesus, you Son of God? are you come here to torment us before the time?
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Son of God - The title, "Son of God," is often given to Christ. People are sometimes called sons, or children of God, to denote their adoption into his family, 1 John 3:1. But the title given to Christ denotes his superiority to the prophets Hebrews 1:1; to Moses, the founder of the Jewish economy Hebrews 3:6; it denotes his unique and near relation to the Father, as evinced by his resurrection Psalm 2:7; Acts 13:33; it denotes his special relation to God from his miraculous conception Luke 1:35; and is equivalent to a declaration that he is divine, or equal to the Father. See the notes at John 10:36.
Art thou come hither to torment us? ... - By "the time" here mentioned is meant the day of judgment. The Bible reveals the doctrine that evil spirits are not now bound as they will be after that day; that they are permitted to tempt and afflict people, but that in the day of judgment they also will be condemned to everlasting punishment with all the wicked, 2 Peter 2:4; Jde 1:6. These spirits seemed to be apprised of that, and were alarmed lest the day that they feared had come. They besought him, therefore, not to send them out of that country, not to consign them then to hell, but to put off the day of their final punishment.
Mark and Luke say that Jesus inquired the name of the principal demoniac, and that he called his name "Legion, for they were many." The name legion was given to a division in the Roman army. It did not always denote the same number, but in the time of Christ it consisted of 6,000 to 3,000 foot soldiers and 3,000 horsemen. It came, therefore, to signify "a large number," without specifying the exact amount.
What have we to do with thee, is a Jewish phrase, which often occurs in the Old Testament, signifying an abrupt refusal of some request, or a wish not to be troubled with the company or importunity of others. Jehu said to the messenger who was sent by Joram to meet him, What hast thou to do with peace? David said, What have I to do with you, ye sons of Zeruiah? Compare Judges 11:12; 2 Samuel 16:10; 2 Kings 9:18; Ezra 4:3; John 2:4. See the note on Mark 1:24.
Jesus, thou Son of God - Griesbach omits the word Jesus, on the authority of several MSS. of the greatest antiquity and respectability; besides some versions, and several of the fathers. I heartily concur with these MSS., etc., for this simple reason, among others, that the word Jesus, i.e. Savior, was of too ominous an import to the Satanic interest to be used freely, in such a case, by any of his disciples or subalterns.
Art thou come hither to torment us before the time? - From this it appears that a greater degree of punishment awaited these demons than they at that time endured; and that they knew there was a time determined by the Divine Judge, when they should be sent into greater torments.
what have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? They had nothing indeed to do with him; they had no interest in his grace, blood, righteousness, and salvation; he was no Saviour for them: but he had to do with them, and that was what they dreaded; and therefore mean, that he would let them alone, in the quiet possession of these men, and not disturb and dislodge them; for they knew that he was Jesus, the Saviour of sinful men, though none of their's, the true Messiah; and that he was also "the Son of God", a divine person, possessed of almighty power, and so an overmatch for them; at whose presence they trembled, and whose all commanding voice they were obliged to obey, though sorely against their wills.
Art thou come hither to torment us before the time? This question implies the apprehension the devils had of Christ as a judge, and their sense of his authority, and power, to punish them; as also that they deserved it, and expected it, nor do they say anything against it; only imagine that the time of their full torment was not yet come; which is generally referred unto the day of judgment, to which they were reserved by the appointment of God; which they had some notion of, and as at a distance; and therefore complain of Christ's coming to them now, and expostulate with him about it: though it may be understood of the time they had proposed to themselves, to abide in the men they had possessed, and which they concluded they had a permission for; and nothing could give more torment, pain, and uneasiness, than to be turned out, and remanded to their prison, and restrained from doing more mischief to the bodies and souls of men. Or whether this may not have some respect to the time of the preaching of the Gospel, and setting up the kingdom of Christ among the Gentiles, the devils might have some hint of, as not yet to be, I leave to be considered, with this observation; that there seems to be a considerable "emphasis" on the word "hither", meaning the country of the Gergesenes, an Heathen country, at least where many Gentiles inhabited: and it is as if they had said, is it not enough, that thou turnest us out of the land of Judea, and hast dispossessed us out of the bodies of men dwelling there; but thou pursuest us hither also, and will not let us have any rest, even in this Heathenish land; though the time is not yet come, for the dissolution of our empire and government in the Gentile world?And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time?They cried out. This account shows: (1) That demoniacal possession was not simply bodily or mental disease. (2) That evil spirits actually took possession of and controlled human beings. (3) That these controlled the actions and organs of speech of their poor victims. (4) We learn elsewhere that sin prepared the way for the entrance of the demon.
Thou Son of God. The demons, like the devil, recognized him.Verse 29. - And, behold. This probably seemed to the evangelist not the least of the many strange things that he introduced by this phrase. They cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee? (Τί ἡμῖν καὶ σοί; מה לנו ולד, frequent in the Old Testament, e.g. 2 Samuel 16:10). What community either of interest or of character? The deepest realization of personal sinfulness may coexist with absolute ignorance of the Divine love. Jesus. Omitted by the Revised Version here, yet genuine in the parallel passages, Matthew omitted from their utterance the name which (Matthew 1:21) indicated the bridging of the chasm between the sinner and God. Thou Son of God? Their sense of sin, their belief in a future torment, and their use of this phrase, alike point to their being Jews. Observe how great a contrast is implied by this term on the lips of demoniacs. As in 1 John 3:8 (cf. Bishop Westcott there), it brings out the nature of the conflict ("the spiritual adversary of man has a mightier spiritual antagonist"), so here. Art thou come hither - had they felt themselves safe in that distant spot and its gloomy surroundings, far away from all religious influence? - to torment us before the time? Their abject terror is still more evident in the parallel passages. Observe
(1) the words are not given as those of the demons, but as the men's own;
(2) a future torment is assumed;
(3) they have no doubt as to their own share in it.
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