Expositor's Greek Testament
DEATH OF THE BAPTIST: COMMENCEMENT OF A NEW DIVISION OF THE EVANGELIC HISTORY.
At that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the fame of Jesus,Matthew 14:1-12. Death of the Baptist (Mark 6:14-29, Luke 9:7-9). This section might with advantage have been given as a short chapter by itself, and a new start made with the feeding of the thousands which forms the first of a series of narratives together giving the story of the later Galilean ministry (Matthew 14:3 to Matthew 20:16). In this section (Matthew 14:1-12) Matthew still has his eye on Mark, the story of the fate of the Baptist being there the next after the section in reference to mother and brethren, excepting the mission of the Twelve (Mark 6:7-13) already related in Mt. (Matthew 10:5-15). Indeed from this point onwards Matthew follows Mark’s order. In the foregoing part of this Gospel the parallelism between it and Mark has been disturbed by the desire of the evangelist to draw largely on his other source, the Logia, and introduce teaching materials bearing on all the topics suggested in his introductory sketch of Christ’s early Galilean ministry: Didache, chaps. 5–7; apostolic mission (4:18. 22), chap. 10; Baptist (chap. 3), chap. 11; Pharisees (chap. 3:7-9), chap. 12; popular preaching (Matthew 4:23), chap. 3 Chaps. 8, 9 disturb the order by grouping incidents illustrating the healing ministry.
Matthew 14:1. ἐν ἐκείνῳ τῷ καιρῷ. Mk. connects with return of Twelve from their mission (Matthew 6:14), Mt. apparently with immediately preceding section. But the phrase recalls Matthew 11:25, Matthew 12:1, and it may be the evangelist is thinking generally of a time of prevailing insusceptibility (Weiss-Meyer).—Ἡρῴδης: Herod Antipas, tetrarch of Galilee and Peraea for many years (4–39 A.D.), married to the daughter of Aretas, king of Arabia; like his father Herod the Great in cunning, ambition, and love of splendour in building and otherwise, whereof the new city of Tiberias was a monument (Schürer, Gesch., i. 359).—ἀκοὴν, vide Matthew 4:24. The fame of Jesus penetrated at last even into the royal palace, where very different matters occupied the attention, ordinarily.
And said unto his servants, This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead; and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him.Matthew 14:2. παισὶν αὐτοῦ: not his sons, but his servants, i.e., the courtiers, great men in their way, not the menials in the palace. The king would propound his odd theory in familiar talk, not in solemn conclave.—αὐτός ἐστιν, etc. It is this theory we have to thank for the narrative following, which in itself has no special connection with the evangelic history, though doubtless Christians would naturally read with interest the fate of the forerunner of Jesus. The king has the Baptist on the brain; and remarkable occurrences in the religious world recall him at once to mind. It is John! he (αὐτὸς) is risen; theory begotten of remorse; odd enough, but better than Pharisaic one begotten of malevolence; both witnessing to the extraordinary in Christ’s career.—διὰ τοῦτο: the living John did no miracles, but no saying what a dead one redivivus can do?—ἐνεργοῦσιν, not: he does the mighty works, but: the powers (δυνάμεις) work in him, the powers of the invisible world, vast and vague in the king’s imagination.
For Herod had laid hold on John, and bound him, and put him in prison for Herodias' sake, his brother Philip's wife.Matthew 14:3. γὰρ implies that the following story is introduced to make the king’s theory intelligible. “Risen” implies previous death, and how that came about must be told to show the psychological genesis of the theory. It is the superstitious idea of a man who has murder on his conscience.—κρατήσας, etc.: fact referred to already in Matthew 4:12, Matthew 11:2; here the reason given. Of course Herod seized, bound, and imprisoned John through his agents.—διὰ Ἡρωδιάδα: a woman here, as so often, the cause of the tragedy.—γυναῖκα φ.: vide on Mk.
For John said unto him, It is not lawful for thee to have her.Matthew 14:4. ἔλεγε γὰρ ὁ Ι. The progressive imperfect, with force of a pluperfect. John had been saying just before he was apprehended (Burton, Moods and Tenses, § 29).—οὐκ ἔξεστιν: doubly unlawful; as adultery, and as marriage within prohibited degrees (Leviticus 18:16; Leviticus 20:21).
And when he would have put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet.Matthew 14:5. θέλων: cf. Matthew 1:19. Mark gives a fuller statement as to Herod’s feelings towards John. No injustice is done Herod here by ascribing to him a wish to get rid of John. There are always mixed feelings in such cases. Compare the relations of Alcibiades to Socrates as described by Plato (Συμπόσιον). ἐφοβήθη τ. ὀ.: that for one thing; also feared God and his conscience a little, not enough. It is well when lawless men in power fear anything.—ὅτι … εἶχον: they took John to be, regarded him as, a prophet.—εἶχον does not by itself mean to hold in high esteem (in pretio habere, Kypke). The point is that John for the people passed for a prophet, belonged to a class commanding religious respect (so Fritzsche, Meyer, etc.). Vide Matthew 21:46.
But when Herod's birthday was kept, the daughter of Herodias danced before them, and pleased Herod.Matthew 14:6. γενεσίοις γενομένοις: one expects the genitive absolute as in T.R., which just on that account is to be suspected. The dative of time. But cf. Mark 6:21, where we have γενομένης and γενεσίοις occurring together, and vide Weiss, Mk.-Evang., p. 221, on the literary connection between the two texts. Most commentators take γενεσίοις as referring to Herod’s birthday. Some, e.g., Grotius, think of the anniversary of the accession to the throne = birthday of his reign. In classic Greek it means a feast in honour of the dead on their birthday, γενέθλια being the word for a birthday feast, vide Lobeck, Phryn., 103. Loesner, Observ. ad N. T. e. Phil. Alex., cites instances from Philo of the use of both words in the sense of a birthday feast.—ἡ θυγάτηρ τ. Ἡρῳδ.: Salome by name.—ἐν τῷ μέσῳ, implies a festive assembly, as fully described in Mk.
Whereupon he promised with an oath to give her whatsoever she would ask.Matthew 14:7. ὡμολόγησεν, confessed by oath; obligation to keep a promise previously given. Cf. Mark 6:22, where the fact is more fully stated. The account in Matt. seems throughout secondary.
And she, being before instructed of her mother, said, Give me here John Baptist's head in a charger.Matthew 14:8. προβιβασθεῖσα: not “before instructed,” as in A. V, but “brought to this point”; urged on. It should require a good deal of “educating” to bring a young girl to make such a grim request. But she had learnt her lesson well, and asked the Baptist’s head, as if she had been asking a favourite dish (ὡς περί τινος ἐδέσματος διαλεγομένη, Chrys., Hom. xlviii.). Kypke cites two instances of the rare use of the word in the sense of instruction.—ὧδε here and now, on the spot, ἐξαυτῆς in Mk. That was an essential part of the request. No time must be left for repentance. If not done at once under the influence of wine and the momentary gratification given by the voluptuous dance, it might never be done at all. This implies that the Baptist was at hand, therefore that the feast was at Machaerus, where there was a palace as well as a fortress.
 Authorised Version.
And the king was sorry: nevertheless for the oath's sake, and them which sat with him at meat, he commanded it to be given her.Matthew 14:9. λυπηθεὶς: participle used concessively, though grieved he granted the request, the grief quite compatible with the truculent wish in Matthew 14:5.—βασιλεύς: only by courtesy.—ὅρκους, plural, singular in Matthew 14:7; spoken in passion, more like profane swearing than deliberate utterance once for all of a solemn oath.
And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison.Matthew 14:10. ἀπεκεφάλισε: expressive word, all too clear in meaning, though not found in Attic usage, or apparently much used at all; a plebeian word, according to Salmasius cited by Kypke, who gives instances from late authors.
And his head was brought in a charger, and given to the damsel: and she brought it to her mother.Matthew 14:11. ἠνέχθῃ, not expressly said “there and then,” but all points to immediate production of the head on a platter in the banqueting hall before the guests; gruesome sight!—ἐδόθη, ἤνεγκε: what a nerve the girl must have had! her mother’s nature in her; the dancing and the cool acceptance of the horrible gift well matched.—κορασίῳ: not to be taken strictly; a young unmarried woman, say, of twenty (Holtz., H. C.). The dancing of a mere girl would have been no entertainment to the sensual revellers. The treat lay in the indecency.
And his disciples came, and took up the body, and buried it, and went and told Jesus.Matthew 14:12. πτῶμα: carcase, used absolutely in this sense only in late writers. Earlier writers would say πτῶμα νεκροῦ. Lobeck, Phryn., 375.
When Jesus heard of it, he departed thence by ship into a desert place apart: and when the people had heard thereof, they followed him on foot out of the cities.Matthew 14:13-21. Jesus retires; feeding of thousands (Mark 6:30-44; Luke 9:10-17).
Matthew 14:13. ἀκούσας, having heard of the fate of John from John’s disciples (Matthew 14:12).—ἀνεχώρησεν ἐκεῖθεν: withdrew from where He was when the report reached Him; locality not indicated. Mark connects the retirement with the return of the Twelve from their mission, and the report they gave, and assigns as motive rest for the missionaries. The two events might synchronise, and escape from Herod’s dangerous neighbourhood might be a joint motive for retirement. But against this is the speedy return (Matthew 14:34).—ἐν πλοίῳ: naturally suggests a place near the sea as starting-point. But it may be rather intended to indicate in what direction they were going—to the eastern side of the lake.—εἰς ἐ. τ. κατʼ ἰδίαν. These phrases have certainly more point in Mk. as referring to a multitude from which they wished to escape.—οἱ ὄχλοι: no previous mention of the crowds, and no hint that Jesus wished to get away from them; looks like a digest of a fuller narrative, such as that in Mk.—πεζῇ (or πεζοὶ), on foot, but not implying that all literally walked; there were sick among them who could not. The contrast is between going by sea and going by land. Cf. Acts 20:13. Classical instances in philological commentaries (Wetstein, Kypke, Elsner, etc.).
And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick.Matthew 14:14. ἐξελθὼν, in this place, naturally means going forth from His retreat, in Mk. (Mark 6:34) going out of the ship, the crowd having arrived on the spot before Him. To escape from the people always difficult, now apparently more than ever. Evidently a time of special excitement, popularity at its height, though according to Fourth Gospel about to undergo a speedy decline.—ἐσπλαγχνίσθη, deponent passive, pitied; Hellenistic, and based on the Hebrew idea of the bowels as the seat of compassion; used by Symmachus in translation of Deuteronomy 13:9.—ἐθεράπευσε: Mark gives prominence to the element of instruction; healing alone mentioned here.
And when it was evening, his disciples came to him, saying, This is a desert place, and the time is now past; send the multitude away, that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves victuals.Matthew 14:15-21. The feeding.
Matthew 14:15. ὀψίας γενομένης: might mean sunset as in Matthew 8:16, but from the nature of the case must mean afternoon from 3 to 6, the first of the “two evenings”.—ἔρημος, comparatively uninhabited, no towns near.—ἡ ὥρα ἤδη παρῆλθεν: the meaning not clear. Mk. has: ἤδη ὥρας πολλῆς = already the hour is advanced. Various suggestions have been made: eating time (Grot.), healing and teaching time (Fritzsche), daytime (Meyer) is past. Weiss, with most probability, takes ὥρα = time for sending them away to get food.—ἀπόλυσον: though late for the purpose, not too late; dismiss them forthwith.
But Jesus said unto them, They need not depart; give ye them to eat.Matthew 14:16. οὐ χρείαν ἔχουσιν ἀπελθεῖν, etc.: even if, as some think, what happened was that under the moral influence of Jesus the people present generously made the provisions they had brought with them available for the company at large, the character of Jesus appears here in a commanding light. No situation appears to Him desperate, no crisis unmanageable. No need to go. Give ye them to eat, resources will be forthcoming (cf. Exodus 14:15). And they were, how we cannot tell. The story is a fact supported by the testimony of all four evangelists, not a baseless legend, or a religious allegory.
And they say unto him, We have here but five loaves, and two fishes.Matthew 14:17. πέντε ἄρτους κ. δ. ἰχ· A very modest supply even for the disciple circle. They seem, under the influence of Jesus, to have been a care-free company, letting to-morrow look after itself. “Learn the philosophy of the Twelve, and how they despised food. Being twelve they had only so much, and they readily gave up these” (Chrysos., H. xlix.). Five loaves and two fishes, all that was known to be in that vast gathering.
He said, Bring them hither to me.Matthew 14:18. φέρετε, etc.: Christ’s imperial way in critical situations often arrests attention.” Stretch forth thine hand” (Matthew 12:13). “Bring them hither to me.”
And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.Matthew 14:19. κελεύσας, λαβὼν, ἀναβλέψας, participles without copula all leading up to εὐλόγησεν, the central chief action: rapid, condensed narrative, briefly, simply, recounting an amazing event.—εὐλόγησεν with accusative (ἄρτους) understood. He blessed the loaves and fishes.—καὶ κλάσας ἔδωκεν, then dividing them gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave to the multitude.—τῷ λόγῳ καὶ τῇ εὐλογίᾳ αὔξων καὶ πληθύνων αὐτούς, Origen.
And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full.Matthew 14:20. δώδεκα κοφ. πλ. is in appos. with τὸ περισσεῦον τ. κ. They took the surplus of the broken pieces to the extent of twelve baskets.—κοφίνους, answering to the Rabbinical קופא, a basket of considerable size (“ein grosses Behältniss,” Wünsche). Each of the Twelve had one. The word recalls the well-known line of Juvenal (Sat. iii. 14): “Judaeis, quorum cophinus foenumque suppellex,” on which and its bearing on this place vide Schöttgen (Hor. Tal.) and Elsner.
And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside women and children.Matthew 14:21. πεντακισχίλιοι, 5000 men, not counting women and children. This helps us to attach some definite meaning to the elastic words, ὄχλος, ὄχλοι, so frequently occurring in the Gospels. Doubtless this was an exceptionally great gathering, yet the inference seems legitimate that ὄχλος meant hundreds, and πολὺς ὄχλος thousands.
And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away.Matthew 14:22-36. The return voyage (Mark 6:45-56)
Matthew 14:22. ἠνάγκασεν: a strong word needing an explanation not here given, supplied in John 6:15. Of course there was no physical compulsion, but there must have been urgency on Christ’s part, and unwillingness on the part of disciples. Fritzsche objects to special emphasis, and renders: “auctor fuit discipulis, ut navem conscenderent”.—ἕως οὗ ἀπολύσῃ, subjunctive, here used where optative would be used in classic Greek. Cf. Matthew 18:30, and vide Burton, § 324.
And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.Matthew 14:23. ἀνέβη εἰς τὸ ὄρος. After dismissing the crowd Jesus retired into the mountainous country back from the shore, glad to be alone—κατʼ ἰδίαν, even to be rid of the Twelve for a season.—προσεύξασθαι: “Good for prayer the mountain, and the night, and the solitude (μόνωσις), affording quiet, freedom from distraction (τὸ ἀπερίσπαστον), and calm” (Euthy. Zig.).—ὀψίας γεν. refers, of course, to a later hour than in Matthew 14:15.
But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.Matthew 14:24. μέσον, an adjective agreeing with πλοῖον (Winer, § 54, 6), signifies not merely in the middle strictly, but any appreciable distance from shore. Pricaeus gives examples of such use. But the reading of , probably to be preferred, implies that the boat was many stadii (25 or 30, John 6:19 = 3 to 4 miles) from the eastern shore.—ὑπὸ τῶν κυμάτων: not in Mk., and goes without saying; when there are winds there will be waves.—ἐναντίος ὁ ἄνεμος: What wind? From what quarter blowing? What was the starting-point, and the destination? Holtz. (H. C.) suggests that the voyage was either from Bethsaida Julias at the mouth of the upper Jordan to the north-western shore, or from the south end of the plain El-Batiha towards Bethsaida Julias, at the north end, citing Furrer in support of the second alternative, vide in Mk.
 Codex Vaticanus (sæc. iv.), published in photographic facsimile in 1889 under the care of the Abbate Cozza-Luzi.
And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.Matthew 14:25. τετάρτῃ φυλ. = 3 to 6, in the early morning, πρωῒ.—ἐπὶ τ. θ.: the readings in this and the next verse vary between genitive and accusative. The sense is much the same. The evangelist means to represent Jesus as really walking on the sea, not on the land above the sea level (Paulus, Schenkel). Holtz. (H. C.), regarding it as a legend, refers to O. T. texts in which God walks on the sea.
And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.Matthew 14:26. φάντασμα: a little touch of sailor superstition natural in the circumstances; presupposes the impression that they saw something walking on the sea.
But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.Matthew 14:27. ἐλάλησεν: Jesus spoke; the words given (θαρσεῖτε, etc.), but the mere sound of His voice would be enough.
And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.Matthew 14:28-33. Peter-episode, peculiar to Mt. The story is true to the character of Peter.
And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.Matthew 14:30. βλέπων τὸν ἄνεμον, seeing the wind, that is, the effects of it. It is one thing to see a storm from the deck of a stout ship, another to see it in midst of the waves.—καταποντίζεσθαι: he walked at first, now he begins to sink; so at the final crisis, so at Antioch (Galatians 2:11), so probably all through. A strange mixture of strength and weakness, bravery and cowardice; a man of generous impulses rather than of constant firm will. “Peter walked on the water but feared the wind: such is human nature, often achieving great things, and at fault in little things.”—(πολλάκις τὰ μεγάλα κατορθοῦσα, ἐν τοῖς ἐλάττοσι ἐλέγχεται, Chrys., H. 1.)
And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?Matthew 14:31. ἐδίστασας: again in Matthew 28:17, nowhere else in N. T., from δίς, double, hence to be of two minds, to doubt (cf. δίψυχος, Jam 1:8).
And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased.Matthew 14:32. ἀναβάντων αὐτῶν: Jesus and Peter.—ἐκόπασεν: used in narrative of first sea-anecdote by Mark 4:39 = exhausted itself (from κόπος).
Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.Matthew 14:33. οἱ ἐν τῷ πλοίῳ: cf. οἱ ἄνθρωποι in Matthew 8:27; presumably the disciples alone referred to.—ἀληθῶς θ. υ. εἶ, a great advance on ποταπός (Matthew 8:27). The question it implies now settled: Son of God.
And when they were gone over, they came into the land of Gennesaret.Matthew 14:34-36. Safe arrival.—διαπεράσαντες, having covered the distance between the place where Jesus joined them and the shore.—ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν: they got to land; the general fact important after the storm.—εἰς Γεννησαρέτ, more definite indication of locality, yet not very definite; a district, not a town, the rich plain of Gennesaret, four miles long and two broad.
And when the men of that place had knowledge of him, they sent out into all that country round about, and brought unto him all that were diseased;Matthew 14:35. καὶ ἐπιγνόντες, etc.: again popular excitement with its usual concomitants. The men of the place, when they recognised who had landed from the boat, sent round the word: Jesus has come! They bring their sick to Him to be healed.
And besought him that they might only touch the hem of his garment: and as many as touched were made perfectly whole.Matthew 14:36. παρεκάλουν, etc.: they have now unbounded confidence in Christ’s curative powers; think it enough to touch (μόνον ἅψωνται) the hem of His mantle.—διεσώθησαν: they are not disappointed; the touch brings a complete cure (διὰ in composition). The expression, ὅσοι ἥψαντο, implies that all who were cured touched: that was the uniform means. Mk.’s expression, ὅσοι ἂν ἥ., leaves that open.