Matthew 13:15
For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
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(15) Lest at any time they should see.—The words point to the obstinate, wilful ignorance which refuses to look on the truth, lest the look should lead to conviction, and conviction to conversion—the ignorance of those who love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil (John 3:19).

13:1-23 Jesus entered into a boat that he might be the less pressed, and be the better heard by the people. By this he teaches us in the outward circumstances of worship not to covet that which is stately, but to make the best of the conveniences God in his providence allots to us. Christ taught in parables. Thereby the things of God were made more plain and easy to those willing to be taught, and at the same time more difficult and obscure to those who were willingly ignorant. The parable of the sower is plain. The seed sown is the word of God. The sower is our Lord Jesus Christ, by himself, or by his ministers. Preaching to a multitude is sowing the corn; we know not where it will light. Some sort of ground, though we take ever so much pains with it, brings forth no fruit to purpose, while the good soil brings forth plentifully. So it is with the hearts of men, whose different characters are here described by four sorts of ground. Careless, trifling hearers, are an easy prey to Satan; who, as he is the great murderer of souls, so he is the great thief of sermons, and will be sure to rob us of the word, if we take not care to keep it. Hypocrites, like the stony ground, often get the start of true Christians in the shows of profession. Many are glad to hear a good sermon, who do not profit by it. They are told of free salvation, of the believer's privileges, and the happiness of heaven; and, without any change of heart, without any abiding conviction of their own depravity, their need of a Saviour, or the excellence of holiness, they soon profess an unwarranted assurance. But when some heavy trial threatens them, or some sinful advantage may be had, they give up or disguise their profession, or turn to some easier system. Worldly cares are fitly compared to thorns, for they came in with sin, and are a fruit of the curse; they are good in their place to stop a gap, but a man must be well armed that has much to do with them; they are entangling, vexing, scratching, and their end is to be burned, Heb 6:8. Worldly cares are great hinderances to our profiting by the word of God. The deceitfulness of riches does the mischief; they cannot be said to deceive us unless we put our trust in them, then they choke the good seed. What distinguished the good ground was fruitfulness. By this true Christians are distinguished from hypocrites. Christ does not say that this good ground has no stones in it, or no thorns; but none that could hinder its fruitfulness. All are not alike; we should aim at the highest, to bring forth most fruit. The sense of hearing cannot be better employed than in hearing God's word; and let us look to ourselves that we may know what sort of hearers we are.And in them is fulfilled ... - This place is quoted substantially from Isaiah 6:9-10. It was literally fulfilled in the time of Isaiah. In the time of Christ the people had the same character. Like them, they closed their eyes upon the truth, and rejected the divine teaching. The words of Isaiah were therefore "as well fitted" to express the character of the people in the time of Christ as in that of the prophet. In this sense they were "fulfilled," or "filled up;" that is, "a case occurred that corresponded to their meaning." See the notes at Matthew 1:22. It is not by any means intended that Isaiah, when he spoke these words, had any reference to the time of Christ. The meaning in both places is, that the people were so gross, sensual, and prejudiced, that they "would" not see the truth, or understand anything that was contrary to their grovelling opinions and sensual desires; a case by no means uncommon in the world. See the passage more fully explained in my notes at Isaiah 6.

Waxed gross - Literally, "has become fat." This language is commonly applied to "the body," but is also used to denote one who is stupid and foolish in mind. Here it means that the people were so sensual and corrupt that they did not see or understand the pure spiritual principles of the gospel.

Lest they should see ... - Lest they should see their lost condition as sinners, and turn and live. The reason given here why they did not hear and understand the gospel is, that their "heart" was "wrong." They "would" not attend to the things that belonged to their peace.

I should heal them - Should pardon, sanctify, and save them. Sin is often represented as a disease, and the pardon and recovery of the soul from sin as "healing."

14. And in them is fulfilled—rather, "is fulfilling," or "is receiving its fulfilment."

the prophecy of Esaias, which saith—(Isa 6:9, 10—here quoted according to the Septuagint).

By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand, &c.—They were thus judicially sealed up under the darkness and obduracy which they deliberately preferred to the light and healing which Jesus brought nigh to them.

Ver. 14,15. These words of the prophet are not less than five times found in the New Testament (besides by Matthew in these verses) applied to the Jews. They are taken out of Isaiah, Isaiah 6:9,10: And he said, Go and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed. It is quoted Mark 4:12 Luke 8:10, where the sense of the words only is quoted more shortly; John 12:40 Acts 28:26,27 Ro 9:8, more largely, yet with some more difference of phrase from that of the prophet. By all of them it appeareth, either that God spake those words to the prophet, as well with reference to those Jews that were to live in the time of Christ, as to those Jews who were living when Isaiah prophesied; or at least, that the words were as true of these Jews as they were of those, so the prophecy of Isaiah was fulfilled in them. But the words are so differently related, that the prophet, and St. John, John 12:39,40, seem to make God the cause of the fatness of this people’s hearts, the heaviness of their ears, and the blindness of their eyes: Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them. So also Paul speaketh, Romans 11:8, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear. Matthew saith,

This people’s heart is waxed gross. Matthew seemeth to speak of the more proximate cause; Isaiah, Luke, John, and Paul of the higher but remoter cause. Matthew, of their sinful act preceding; John, Luke, Paul, and Isaiah, of the judicial act of God, consequent to their sinful act. God first sent them Moses and the prophets, by whom they might have seen and known his will: they would not see, nor hear, nor understand, nor convert, nor be healed. God at last did leave them to the reprobacy of their own mind: he willed indeed the prophet to go and preach, But, saith he, this shall be all the fruit of thy ministry, it shall but make the heart of this people fat, and their ears heavy, they shall more and more shut their eyes: their time of conversion and healing is past; it is now too late, I will not convert, I will not heal them. Now (saith our Saviour) what was applicable to the Jews in the time of Isaiah, is in like manner applicable to you, and the prophet Isaiah did foretell what I should meet with. The generality of the people are a people that have so despised the grace of God, that their day of grace is over; God is resolved he will not convert nor heal them. They have had light, they have seen me and my works, they have heard my sermons and John Baptist’s; in seeing they would not see, in hearing they would not hear nor understand. So they are fallen under a judicial hardness and blindness. They shall not now have the light as they have had: my Spirit shall no longer strive with them; neither shall they have a heart to make a due use of the means they have. This is doubtless the meaning of these words. And so they give a just reason why he spake to them in parables. And thus undoubtedly God doth to this day; when a people have a long time sat under a good and profitable ministry, wherein their souls have been dealt with plainly and faithfully, and they remain still ignorant, debauched, and unbelieving, God in a righteous judgment gives them over to the blindness of mind and hardness of heart under the ministry, that though it continue never so good amongst them, yet they are not affected with the word, but sleep and harden under it. Sometimes he by his providence suffers such a minister to come amongst them as speaketh nothing but parables, things which they understand not; or smooth things, fit to smooth them up in their sinful courses, and harden them in their prejudices against Christ and holiness. A most tremendous judgment of God. When God, antecedently to this contempt, by his providence sends such a ministry as may declare his willingness they should be saved and come to the knowledge of his truth; and consequently to this contempt, and despising of his grace, so dealeth with them by his providence, either suffering their first seeming affections and edge to abate, (as the Jews are said for a while to have rejoiced in the light John brought), or suffering such a ministry to come amongst them, as one would think God sent lest men should convert and be healed. In the mean time Christ in this text excellently sets out God’s method in his dealing with souls:

1. He bringeth them to hear and see.

2. Then he makes them to understand and believe.

3. Then he converts them, renews and changes their hearts.

4. Then he healeth them, pardoneth their sins, and accepts their persons, not because they are converted, but at the same time when he works faith in them, and giveth them a heart to repent.

For this people's heart is waxed gross, Or fat, become stupid and sottish, and without understanding; and so incapable of taking in the true sense and meaning of what they saw with their eyes, and heard with their ears; for they had their outward senses of hearing and seeing, and yet their intellectual powers were stupefied.

And their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; which is expressive of the blindness and hardness, which were partly brought upon themselves by their own wilfulness and obstinacy, against such clear evidence as arose from the doctrine and miracles of Christ; and partly from the righteous judgment of God, giving them up, for their perverseness, to judicial blindness and obduracy; John 12:40 and are in the prophet ascribed to the ministry of the word; that being despised, was in righteous judgment, the savour of death unto death, unto them; and they under it, as clay, under the influence of the sun, grew harder and harder by it, stopping their ears, and shutting their eyes against it:

lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart: which may be understood either of God's intention, and view, in giving them up to judicial blindness, and hardness of heart, under such miracles, and such a ministry, as a punishment for their wilful contempt of them; that so they might never have any true sight, hearing, and understanding of these things, and be turned from the evil of their ways, have repentance unto life, and remission of sins; which seems to be the sense of the other evangelists, Mark 4:12 or, as if these people purposely stupefied themselves, stopped their ears, and pulled away the shoulder, and wilfully shut their eyes; fearing they should receive some conviction, light, and knowledge,

and be converted by the power and grace of God:

and I should heal them; or, as in Mark, "and their sins should be forgiven them"; for healing of diseases, and forgiveness of sins, are, in Scripture language, one and the same thing; and this sense of the phrase here, is justified by the Chaldee paraphrase, which renders it, , "and they be forgiven", or "it be forgiven them", and by a Jewish commentator on the place; who interprets healing, of the healing of the soul, and adds , "and this is pardon" (m).

(m) R. David Kimchi in loc.

For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
15. this people’s heart is waxed gross] The heart was regarded as the seat of intelligence. Gross, literally, fat, so stolid, dull, like pinguis in Latin.

Matthew 13:15. Ἐπαχύνθη γὰρ ἠ καρδία τοῦ λαοῦ τούτου, FOR this people’s heart is waxed gross) It stands thus in the S. V.; but in the Hebrew there is no word corresponding to the Greek γᾶρ, for. The language, however, rapidly turns itself away from them.[607]—ἡ καρδία, the heart, τοῖς ὠσὶτούς ὀφθαλμοὺς, with their ears, their eyes) These three occur again immediately in the opposite order: “with their eyes,” “with their ears,” “with their heart.” The heart is the first in the beginning, the last in the end. From the heart corruption flows into the ears and eyes; through the eyes and ears health[608] reaches the heart.—ἐκάμμυσανμήποτεἰάσωμαι αὐτούς, they have closed, lest at any time I should heal them) God therefore had wished to heal them; and it is clear that healing was close to them, if they had only turned to it. In Mark 4:12, we read “καὶ ἀφεθῇ αὐτοῖς τὰ ἁμαρτήματα;” i.e.and their sins be forgiven them.” Cf. Psalm 103:3.—συνῶσι, should understand) The seat[609] of σύνεσις, understanding, and νοήσις, perception, is the heart, not the brain: this is equally true of πώρωσις, hardening (see John 12:40), and of σκοτασμός, darkening (see Romans 1:21); as also of ἀπιστία, unbelief, and πίστις, faith, which is followed by ἐπιστροφή, conversion.[610]

[607] “Sermo autem celeriter se ab iis avertit.” This is one of many instances where it is impossible to find an English equivalent to the Latin “Sermo,” Bengel’s moaning is that whereas, in Matthew 13:9, God had commanded the prophet to go and speak to the Jews, saying, “Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not,” in Matthew 13:8, He suddenly changes the Sermo, i.e. the mode of speech, the direction of His words; and, instead of desiring Isaiah to address the people, turns from them, as it were, and gives an injunction to the prophet, regarding them, it is true, but not addressed to them: sc. “Make the heart of this people fat, etc.”—(I. B.)

[608] “Sanitas,” lit. soundness, an expression applied indifferently to mind or body, as in the well-known passage of Juvenal:—

[609] “Subjectum quo.”—(I. B.)

[610] The Hebrew accents undoubtedly connect the words καὶ ἐπιστρέψωσι (and should be converted) more closely with συνῶσι (should understand) than with ἰάσωμαι (I should heal). And in many passages of the Old Testament which are quoted in the New, the Hebrew accents agree more accurately with the force of the exact words of the Inspired original than the punctuation employed by the Greeks: e.g. Matthew 4:15; Matthew 19:5; Matthew 21:5; Luke 4:18; Acts 7:6; Acts 8:32; Hebrews 1:12; Hebrews 3:9; Hebrews 12:26; Hebrews 13:6. And yet these Greeks were Christians. We ought not, therefore, to think that the Hebrew accents have originated with the modern Jews left to their blindness. Their origin is far more ancient, far more sublime.”—APP. CRIT., Ed. II., p. 120.

“Ut sit mens sana in corpere sano.”—(I. B.)

Verse 15. - For this people's heart is waxed gross. There are two ways of understanding this verse as it comes here.

(1) It states the reason why God pronounced the judgment of ver. 14. The people's heart had already become fat, lest (μή ποτε will then express the effect from the Divine point of view) they should see, etc.

(2) It merely enlarges the statement of ver. 14, expanding its meaning (for this force of γάρ, cf. Mark 2:15; Luke 18:32): their heart is waxed fat (by God's judgment for preceding sins), lest they should see, etc. This second explanation is preferable, for it alone suits the imperative found in the Hebrew (cf. the transitive verbs in John 12:40), and is strictly parallel to the introductory vers. 11-13, which do not dwell upon the causes of God's judgment. And their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest at any time (Matthew 4:6, note) they should see; perceive (Revised Version) - to recall the same word in ver. 14. With their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart. Bengel calls attention to the order; first came heart, ears, eyes; here, eyes, ears, heart. "A corde corruptio manat in aures et oculos: per oculos et aures sanitas pervenit ad cor." And should be converted; and should turn again (Revised Version, ἐπιστρέψωσι); for "to be converted" has acquired too technical a meaning. And I should heal them (καὶ ἰάσομαι αὐτούς). The verb is still dependent on the lest (cf. Matthew 5:25; Matthew 7:6), but the future brings out the certainty of God's healing them on their turning, etc. Matthew 13:15Is waxed gross (ἐπαχύνθη)

Lit., was made fat. Wyc., enfatted.

Are dull of hearing (τοῖς ὠσὶν βαρέως ἤ κουσαν)

Lit., They heard heavily with their ears.

They have closed (ἐκάμμυσαν)

, κατά, down, μύω, to close, as in μυστήρια above Our idiom shuts up the eyes. The Greek shuts them down. The Hebrew, in Isaiah 6:10, is besmear. This insensibility is described as a punishment. Compare Isaiah 29:10; Isaiah 44:18; in both of which the closing of the eyes is described as a judgment of God. Sealing up the eyes was an oriental punishment. Cheyne ("Isaiah") cites the case of a son of the Great Mogul, who had his eyes sealed up three years by his father as a punishment. Dante pictures the envious, on the second cornice of Purgatory, with their eyes sewed up:

"For all their lids an iron wire transpierces,

And sews them up, as to a sparhawk wild

Is done, because it will not quiet stay."

Purg., xiii., 70-72.

Be converted (ἐπιστρέψωσιν)

Rev., turn again; ἐπί, to or toward, στρέφω, to turn; with the idea of their turning from their evil toward God.

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