The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)The blind receive their sight.—Apparently no facts were stated which might not have already come to the ears of the Baptist. At least one instance of each class of miracle has already been recorded by St. Matthew, the blind (Matthew 9:27), the lame (Matthew 9:6), the leper (Matthew 8:2), the dead (Matthew 9:25). The raising of the widow’s son at Nain, which in St. Luke follows closely upon the healing of the centurion’s servant, must also have preceded what is here narrated. What the Baptist needed was, not the knowledge of fresh facts, but a different way of looking at those he already knew. Where these works were done, there were tokens that the coming One had indeed come. But above all signs and wonders, there was another spiritual note of the kingdom, which our Lord reserves as the last and greatest: Poor men have the good news proclaimed to them. They are invited to the kingdom, and told of peace and pardon. It is as though our Lord knew that the Baptist, whose heart was with the poor, would feel that One who thus united power and tenderness could be none other than the expected King.
The poor have the gospel preached to them - It was predicted of the Messiah that he would preach good tidings to the meek Isaiah 61:1; or, as it is rendered in the New Testament, "He hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor," Luke 4:18. By this, therefore, also, John might infer that he was truly the Messiah. It adds to the force of this testimony that the "poor" have always been overlooked by Pharisees and philosophers. No sect of philosophers had condescended to notice them before Christ, and no system of religion had attempted to instruct them before the Christian religion. In all other schemes the poor have been passed by as unworthy of notice.
the works of Christ, he sent, &c.—On the whole passage, see on Lu 7:18-35.See Poole on "Matthew 11:6". Isaiah 35:6 and which having their accomplishment in him, John and his disciples might easily and strongly conclude, that he was he that was to come, and that they should not look for another. The several things here mentioned, were not all done at this time, but were what these disciples had sufficient and authentic evidence of; sight was restored to the blind before them then; and no doubt they were informed of the two blind men, that had their eyes opened, Matthew 9:30
and the lame walk; as did the man sick of the palsy, who was brought to him on a bed, carried by four men, but went away himself, with his bed upon his shoulders, Matthew 9:2
the lepers are cleansed: as the poor man was, that was full of leprosy, and who was cured by Christ, by touching him, Matthew 8:3
and the deaf hear; as did the man, into whose ears Christ put his fingers and said, Ephphatha, be opened, Mark 7:33
and the poor have the Gospel preached them; by "the poor" are meant, either the preachers of the Gospel; for so the words may be rendered, "the poor preach the Gospel": and such were the apostles of Christ; they were poor with respect to the things of this world; they were chiefly fishermen; and, with respect to human literature, they were unlearned men, had no stock or furniture of acquired learning, and were mean, abject, and contemptible, in the sight and opinion of men; and yet Christ called, qualified, and sent them forth to preach the Gospel. Or else, the hearers of it are designed; who were also the poor of this world, made a very low figure in life, and had but a small share of knowledge and understanding, and so were despised, and reckoned as cursed by the Scribes and Pharisees: or they were such, who were poor in spirit, or spiritually poor; who saw their spiritual poverty, bewailed and acknowledged it, and sought after the true riches of grace, and glory in Christ. Now these, as they had the Gospel preached to them more fully and clearly, with more power and authority, and so as it never was before or since, so they "received" it, as Tremellius from the Syriac reads the text, readily and willingly, joyfully and gladly, with faith and love; and were, as it may be also rendered, "evangelized" by it, or thrown into a gospel mould and frame: which may be said to be done, when a man has a spirit of liberty, in opposition to a spirit of bondage; when he lives by faith on Christ alone; when his comforts do not spring from his works, but from Christ; when the love and grace of God influence his repentance and obedience; when a man has a spirit of meekness and of love to the saints, is of a forbearing and forgiving spirit: when he is desirous of performing all duties both to God and man, and yet depends upon none of them, but upon Christ alone, for salvation.The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Matthew 11:5-6. In words that seem an echo of Isaiah 35:5 f., 8, Isaiah 61:1 ff., though, in accordance with existing circumstances, embracing some additional matters, Jesus draws His answer clearly and decidedly from the well-known facts of His ministry, which prove Him to be the ἐρχόμενος foretold in prophecy. Comp. Luke 4:18. The words of the answer form a resumé of cases such as those in Matthew 8:2, Matthew 9:1; Matthew 9:23; Matthew 9:27; Matthew 9:32; therefore they cannot have been intended to be taken in the sense of spiritual redemption, which Jesus might lay claim to as regards His works (in answer to de Wette, Keim, Wittichen); comp. Schweizer in the Stud. u. Krit. 1836, p. 106 ff.; Weiss, bibl. Theol., ed. 2, p. 48; Hofmann, Schriftbew. II. 1, p. 181.
πτωχοὶ εὐαγγελ.] well-known passive construction, as in Hebrews 4:2; Hebrews 4:6; Galatians 2:7; Romans 3:2; Hebrews 11:2; Bernhardy, p. 341 f.
πτωχοί] are the poor, the miserable, the friendless, the oppressed and helpless multitude (comp. on Matthew 5:3), elsewhere compared to sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36), and likened a little further on to a bruised reed and smoking flax (Matthew 12:20). Such people crowded about our Lord, who proclaimed to them the Messianic deliverance. And this deliverance they actually obtained when, as πτωχοὶ τῷ πνεύματι, Matthew 5:3, they surrendered themselves to His word under a deep heartfelt consciousness of their need of help.
σκανδαλ. ἐν ἐμοί] will have been offended in me, so as to have come to entertain false views concerning me, so as to have ceased to believe in me, to have come to distrust me; Matthew 13:57, Matthew 26:31; Matthew 26:33; comp. on Matthew 5:29.
Judging from John’s question, Matthew 11:2, and Jesus’ reply, Matthew 11:6, it is neither unwarrantable nor, as far as can be seen, incompatible with the evangelic narrative, to assume that nothing else is meant than that John was really in doubt as to the personal Messiahship of Jesus and the nature of that Messiahship altogether,—a doubt, however, which, after the honourable testimony of Jesus, Matthew 11:7 ff., cannot be regarded as showing a want of spirituality, nor as inconsistent with the standpoint and character of one whom God had sent as the forerunner, and who had been favoured with a divine revelation, but only as a temporary eclipse of his settled conviction, which, owing to human infirmity, had yielded to the influence of despondency. This condition is so explicable psychologically from the popular nature of the form which he expected the Messianic kingdom to assume on the one hand, as well as from his imprisonment on the other, coupled with the absence of any interposition in his favour on the part of Him who, as Messiah in the Baptist’s sense, should have given things a totally different turn by manifesting Himself in some sudden, overwhelming, and glorious crisis, and so analogous to undoubted examples of the same thing in other holy men (Moses, Elias), that there is no foundation for the view that, because of this question of the Baptist (which Strauss even regards as an expression of the first beginnings of his faith), the evangelic accounts of his earlier relation to Jesus are to be regarded as overdrawn (on the other hand, Wieseler, l.c. p. 203 ff.),—a view which seems to be shared by Weizsäcker, p. 320, and Schenkel. Actual doubt was the cause of the question, and furnished the occasion for informing him about the works of Jesus, which, as characteristic marks of the Messiah, formed again a counterpoise to his doubts, and so awoke an internal conflict in which the desire to call upon Jesus finally to declare Himself was extremely natural; and, accordingly, there is no reason for Strauss’ wonder that, ere this, οὐκ ἀκούσας has not been substituted in Matthew 11:2 as a likely reading instead of ἀκούσας. From all this, and without importing any subjective element into the accounts, it is to be considered as settled that the Baptist’s question proceeded from real doubt as to whether Jesus was the ἐρχόμενος, yea or nay; nor is it for a moment to be limited (Paulus, Olshausen, Neander, Fleck, Kuhn, Ebrard, de Wette, Wieseler, Döllinger, and several others; comp. also Hofmann, Weissag. u. Erf. II. p. 75; Lichtenstein, L. J. p. 256; Hausrath, Zeitgesch. I. p. 338; Gess, Chr. Pers. u. Werk, I. p. 352) to doubts regarding the true nature of the Messiah’s manifestation and works; but still less is the whole narrative to be explained by supposing, in accordance with the time-honoured exegetical tradition, that John sent the message for the benefit of his own disciples, to confirm in them a belief in Jesus as the Messiah (Origen in Cramer’s Catena, Chrysostom, Augustine, Jerome, Hilary, Theophylact, Euth. Zigabenus, Münster, Luther, Calvin, Beza, Melanchthon, Clarius, Zeger, Jansen, Maldonatus, Grotius, Calovius, Bengel), or by seeing in it an expression of impatience, and an indirect challenge to the Messiah to establish His kingdom without delay (Lightfoot, Michaelis, Schuster in Eichhorn’s Bibl. XI. p. 1001 ff.; Leopold, Joh. d. Täuf. 1825, p. 96; Kuinoel, Fritzsche, Hase). The correct view was substantially given by so early a writer as Tertullian, and subsequently by Wetstein, Thies, J. E. Ch. Schmidt, Ammon, Löffler, kl. Schriften, II. p. 150 ff.; Neander, Krabbe, Bleek, Riggenbach, and several others; comp. also Ewald, Gesch. Chr. p. 420, who, however, supposes at the same time that the disciples of John may have been urging him to tell them plainly whether they ought to transfer their allegiance to Jesus or not; similarly Keim, who thinks that John, though hesitating between the alternative: He is the Messiah and He is not so, was nevertheless more disposed in favour of the affirmative view; so also Schmidt in the Jahrb. f. D. Th. 1869, p. 638 ff., who notices the way in which, as he supposes, the Baptist belies his former testimony regarding Christ.Matthew 11:5. ἀναβλέπουσιν: used also in classics to express recovery of sight.—κωφοὶ, here taken to mean deaf, though in Matthew 9:32-33, it means dumb, showing that the prophecy, Isaiah 35:5, is in the speaker’s thoughts.—πτωχοὶ: vague word, might mean literal poor (De W.) or spiritual poor, or the whole people in its national misery (Weiss, Matt. Evan.), best defined by such a text as Matthew 9:36, and such facts as that reported in Matthew 9:10-13.—εὐαγγελίζονται: might be middle = the poor preach, and so taken by Euthy. Zig. (also as an alternative by Theophy.), for “what can be poorer than fishing (ἁλιευτικῆς)?” The poor in that case = the Twelve sent out to preach the kingdom. That, too, was character istic of the movement, though not the characteristic intended, which is that the poor, the socially insignificant and neglected, are evangelised (passive, as in Hebrews 4:2).5. Comp. Isaiah 35:5; Isaiah 61:1. The first passage describes the work of God, who “will come and save you.”
the poor have the gospel preached to them] In earthly kingdoms envoys are sent to the rich and great. Compare the thought implied in the disciple’s words, “Who then can be saved?” If it is difficult for the rich to enter the kingdom, how much more for the poor?Matthew 11:5. Εὐαγγελίζονται, are evangelized) The word is passive; cf. Luke 16:16. For the works of our Lord Himself, which the disciples of John then saw and heard, are meant; cf. Luke 4:18, concerning the prediction of this work. Nor did all poor men as yet preach the Gospel, but only the apostles. See Matthew 10:7.
 Τυφλοὶ ἀναβλέπουσι) At that very moment (period of time) such miracles were being performed (Luke 7:21), which were the very miracles reserved for the Christ. In ancient times, sinners used to be punished with blindness, leprosy, and death.—νεκροὶ ἐγείρονται) A miracle which had been very recently performed in the case of the young man of Nain, Luke 7:14.—V. g.
 Which was peculiarly a work of the Christ, who was anointed for that very purpose, Isaiah 61:1.—V. g. Comp. Luke 4:1.—ED.Verse 5. - The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear (and, Revised Version), the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. The first and the last of the examples selected by our Lord are fulfilments or' prophecy (Isaiah 61:1). Observe that
(1) the words are taken from the LXX. (εὐαγγελίσασθαι πτωχοις... τυφλοῖς ἀνάβλεψιν), which, perhaps, represents a different reading from the Massoretic text (cf. Cheyne, in loc., 'Critical Note').
(2) Our Lord reverses the order of the expressions, taking the restoration of sight to the blind as the commencement of a series of physical miracles, and thus making spiritual work the climax.
(3) He does not quote Isaiah's phrase, "liberty to the captives," although the quotation of its context could not but suggest it to John, the reason being, it would seem, that he desired to call John's attention away from the more political part of Messiah's work to that which alone forms the basis of permanent political improvement - the restoration of the individual.
(4) In accordance with this is the fact that when he was laying stress on the character of his adherents as the one qualification for sharing in his kingdom, he alluded to the same passage of Isaiah (vide Matthew 5:3-5). John was not wholly emancipated from the Jewish tendency to regard the external results of the kingdom; our Lord's mind dwelt rather on the internal results. Although John's difficulty had been felt when he heard of the works (ver. 2, note), our Lord only said in reply, "Tell him of my works." It was an old message, and yet a new one. In the nature of those works, when fully understood, lay the true solution of his difficulty. Observe that here also Christ adds a Beatitude (ver. 6). The blind (Matthew 9:27, note), (and the lame. The "and" is doubtless genuine here, its omission in some manuscripts being due to the parallel passage in Luke. Observe the rhythm, "blind and lame," "lepers and deaf," "and dead and poor." Perhaps this is the result of oral transmission. The lame walk (Isaiah 35:6). The dead are raised up. "Quod novissime factum erat juveni Nainitico" (Bengel; and so Ellicott, 'Hist. Lects.,' pp. 181, 183, edit. 1861). The gospel; good tidings (Revised Version text [not margin], probably to suggest to English readers the reference to Isaiah 61:1).
Tynd., The halt go.
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