|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
5:1-20 Some openly wilful sinners are like this madman. The commands of the law are as chains and fetters, to restrain sinners from their wicked courses; but they break those bands in sunder; and it is an evidence of the power of the devil in them. A legion of soldiers consisted of six thousand men, or more. What multitudes of fallen spirits there must be, and all enemies to God and man, when here was a legion in one poor wretched creature! Many there are that rise up against us. We are not a match for our spiritual enemies, in our own strength; but in the Lord, and in the power of his might, we shall be able to stand against them, though there are legions of them. When the vilest transgressor is delivered by the power of Jesus from the bondage of Satan, he will gladly sit at the feet of his Deliverer, and hear his word, who delivers the wretched slaves of Satan, and numbers them among his saints and servants. When the people found that their swine were lost, they had a dislike to Christ. Long-suffering and mercy may be seen, even in the corrections by which men lose their property while their lives are saved, and warning given them to seek the salvation of their souls. The man joyfully proclaimed what great things Jesus had done for him. All men marvelled, but few followed him. Many who cannot but wonder at the works of Christ, yet do not, as they ought, wonder after him.
Verses 8, 9. - For he said unto him, Come forth, thou unclean spirit, out of the man; literally, for he was saying (ἔλεγε). The unclean spirit endeavored to arrest, before it was spoken, that word of power which he knew he must obey. So in what follows, He was asking him (ἐπηρώτα), What is thy name? Why does our Lord ask this question? Clearly to elicit from him an answer that would reveal the multitude of the evil spirits, and so make his own power over them to be fully known. And he saith unto him, My name is Legion; for we are many. The Roman legion consisted of six thousand soldiers. But the word is here used indefinitely for a large number. St. Luke so explains it where he says (Luke 8:30), "And he said, Legion: for many devils were entered into him." This revelation is doubtless designed to teach us how great is the number as well as the malignity of the evil spirits. If one human being can be possessed by so many, how vast must be the host of those who are permitted to have access to the souls of men, and if possible lead them to destruction! Satan here imitates him who is "The Lord of hosts." He too marshals his hosts, that he may fight against God and his people. But "for this purpose was the Son of God manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
For he said unto him,.... Or he had said unto him, as soon as he came up to him, and fell before him; even before he had confessed, and adjured him; and which indeed drew out the confession from him, that he was superior to him, and therefore became his supplicant:
come out of the man, thou unclean spirit; which was said with so much authority and power, that there was no withstanding it: the devil knew he was not a match for him; that he must, at his command, quit his possession, and therefore fell to confession and entreaty. Christ will not dwell where Satan does; when therefore he is about to take up his residence in the hearts of any, he outs with Satan; he binds the strong man armed, and dispossesses him; he causes the spirit of uncleanness to depart; he sanctifies the heart by his grace and Spirit, and so makes it a proper habitation for him to dwell in by faith; and this is done by mighty power: a man cannot deliver himself out of the hands of Satan, or cause him to quit his hold of him, or the unclean spirit to depart; nor can he sanctify and cleanse himself, and make himself meet for the master's use: this is all owing to efficacious grace.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
8. For he said unto him—that is, before the unclean spirit cried out.
Come out of the man, unclean spirit!—Ordinarily, obedience to a command of this nature was immediate. But here, a certain delay is permitted, the more signally to manifest the power of Christ and accomplish His purposes.
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