|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
7:14-24 Every faithful minister may humbly adopt Christ's words. His doctrine is not his own finding out, but is from God's word, through the teaching of his Spirit. And amidst the disputes which disturb the world, if any man, of any nation, seeks to do the will of God, he shall know whether the doctrine is of God, or whether men speak of themselves. Only those who hate the truth shall be given up to errors which will be fatal. Surely it was as agreeable to the design of the sabbath to restore health to the afflicted, as to administer an outward rite. Jesus told them to decide on his conduct according to the spiritual import of the Divine law. We must not judge concerning any by their outward appearance, but by their worth, and by the gifts and graces of God's Spirit in them.
Verse 15. - The Jews therefore marvelled, saying, etc. "The Jews," as elsewhere, mean the ruling and learned class, the men of power and weight in the metropolis, who must have heard his teaching. The immediate effect of the appearance and words was great astonishment. In spite of themselves, they are moved by the command he manifested over all the springs of thought and feeling. The point of their astonishment is, not that he is wise and true, but that he could teach without having been taught in their schools. How doth this man know letters? (not the "Holy Scriptures," ἱερα γράμματα, nor πάσας γραφάς, but simply γράμματα, literature, such as we teach it; cf. Acts 26:24). He can interpret our oracles; he is acquainted with the methods of teaching, though he has not learned - has never sat in any of our schools. Saul of Tarsus was brought up at the feet of Gomaliel. And ordinarily a man was compelled to undergo a lengthened noviciate in the schools before he was allowed to assume the office of a teacher. The inherited wisdom of the past is in the great majority of cases the basis of the most conspicuous teaching of the most original and unique of the great sages. The "Jews" were sufficiently acquainted with the origin and training of Jesus to be astonished at his knowledge of the interpretations of Scripture and other wisdom. "This tells powerfully against all attempts, ancient and modern, to trace back the wisdom of Jesus to some school of human culture" (Meyer). The attempts to establish a connection between the teaching of Christ and the hidden wisdom of the Zendavesta, or esoteric utterances of Buddha, or even the traditionary teaching of the Essenes, or the Platonizing schools of Alexandria or Ephesus, have failed. The mystery of his training as a man in the village of Nazareth is one of the evidences given to the world that there was an unknown element in his consciousness. He had not even the advantage of the schools of Hillel or Gamaliel. His own wondrous soul, by much pondering on the genuine significance of the Scriptures, is the only explanation to which even his enemies can appeal. Jesus knew the meaning, heard the murmuring of their surprise on this head, and so we read -
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And the Jews marvelled,.... Both at the matter, and manner of his doctrine; it was such, as never man spake; his words were so gracious, and there were such truth and evidence in them, and they were delivered with such power and authority, that they were astonished at them:
saying, how knoweth this man letters? or "the Scriptures", as the Arabic and Persic versions render it; which are called "holy letters", 2 Timothy 3:15; according to which, the sense is, that they were surprised at his knowledge of the Scriptures, that he should be conversant with them, and be able to interpret them, and give the sense and meaning of them, in so full and clear a manner, as he did: or else the sense is, how came this man to be such a learned man? whence has he this wisdom, and all this learning which he shows? as in Matthew 13:54. So a learned man is in Isaiah 29:11, said to be one that , , "knows letters", as the Septuagint there translate the Hebrew text; but how Christ should know them, or be a learned man,
having never learned, was surprising to them: that is, he had not had a liberal education, but was brought up to a trade; he was not trained up at the feet of any of their Rabbins, in any of their universities, or schools of learning; and in which they were certainly right. Modern Jews pretend to say he had a master, whom they sometimes call Elchanan (o), but most commonly they make him to be R. Joshua ben Perachiah (p): with whom they say, he fled into Alexandria in Egypt, for fear of Jannai the king: and one of their writers (q), on this account, charges the evangelist with a falsehood: but who are we to believe, the Jews who lived at the same time with Jesus, and knew his education and manner of life, or those that have lived ages since?
(o) Toldos Jesu, p. 5. (p) Juchasin, fol. 159. 1. Ganz Tzemach David, par. 1, fol. 21. 1. & 24. (q) R. Isaac Chizzuk Emuna, par. 2. c. 46. p. 435.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
15. How knoweth … letters—learning (Ac 26:24).
having never learned—at any rabbinical school, as Paul under Gamaliel. These rulers knew well enough that He had not studied under any human teacher—an important admission against ancient and modern attempts to trace our Lord's wisdom to human sources [Meyer]. Probably His teaching on this occasion was expository, manifesting that unrivalled faculty and depth which in the Sermon on the Mount had excited the astonishment of all.
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