Matthew 14:26
And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.
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Matthew 14:26-27. And when the disciples saw him, they were troubled — “It is well known that it is never entirely dark on the water not to urge that the moon might perhaps now be in the last quarter, as it must have been, if this was about three weeks before the passover.” By that little light, therefore, which they had, the disciples, seeing him, but not perfectly discerning who he was, were much terrified: saying, It is a spirit, Οτι φαντασμα εστι, It is an apparition: for they justly supposed that no human body could be supported by the water. Although the original word here used is not spirit, but apparition, yet that the Jews in general, particularly the Pharisees, believed in the existence of spirits, and that spirits sometimes appeared, is evident from Luke 24:37; Luke 24:39, and Acts 23:8-9. And they cried out with fear — Through their dread of what might be the consequence: for, Mark 6:50, they all saw him, and were troubled. We see here, that even appearances and approaches of deliverance may be the occasions of trouble and perplexity to God’s people, who are sometimes put into great fear when they are most highly favoured. See Luke 1:29, and Exodus 3:6. To allay the fears of his disciples, Christ immediately drew near and spake to them, in a tone of voice with which they were all perfectly acquainted, saying, θαρσειτε, Take courage: it is I — Your Lord and Master; be not afraid — Either of me, who am your friend, or of the violent tempest, which cannot hurt you while you are under my protection.

14:22-33 Those are not Christ's followers who cannot enjoy being alone with God and their own hearts. It is good, upon special occasions, and when we find our hearts enlarged, to continue long in secret prayer, and in pouring out our hearts before the Lord. It is no new thing for Christ's disciples to meet with storms in the way of duty, but he thereby shows himself with the more grace to them and for them. He can take what way he pleases to save his people. But even appearances of deliverance sometimes occasion trouble and perplexity to God's people, from mistakes about Christ. Nothing ought to affright those that have Christ near them, and know he is theirs; not death itself. Peter walked upon the water, not for diversion or to boast of it, but to go to Jesus; and in that he was thus wonderfully borne up. Special supports are promised, and are to be expected, but only in spiritual pursuits; nor can we ever come to Jesus, unless we are upheld by his power. Christ bade Peter come, not only that he might walk upon the water, and so know his Lord's power, but that he might know his own weakness. And the Lord often lets his servants have their choice, to humble and prove them, and to show the greatness of his power and grace. When we look off from Christ, and look at the greatness of opposing difficulties, we shall begin to fall; but when we call to him, he will stretch out his arm, and save us. Christ is the great Saviour; those who would be saved, must come to him, and cry to him, for salvation; we are never brought to this, till we find ourselves sinking: the sense of need drives us to him. He rebuked Peter. Could we but believe more, we should suffer less. The weakness of faith, and the prevailing of our doubts, displease our Lord Jesus, for there is no good reason why Christ's disciples should be of a doubtful mind. Even in a stormy day he is to them a very present help. None but the world's Creator could multiply the loaves, none but its Governor could tread upon the waters of the sea: the disciples yield to the evidence, and confess their faith. They were suitably affected, and worshipped Christ. He that comes to God, must believe; and he that believes in God, will come, Heb 11:6.They were troubled - They were afraid. The sight was remarkable. It was sufficient to awe them. In the dark night, amid the tumultuous billows appeared the form of a man. They thought it was a spirit an apparition. It was a common belief among the ancients that the spirits of people after death frequently appeared to the living. Mt 14:22-26. Jesus Crosses to the Western Side of the Lake Walking on the Sea—Incidents on Landing. ( = Mr 6:45; Joh 6:15-24).

For the exposition, see on [1303]Joh 6:15-24.

See Poole on "Matthew 14:27".

And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea,.... It being now morning, and perhaps might have moon light; and besides, there is always more light upon the water than land; they were able to discern something like a man, walking upon the surface of the sea, but had not light enough to distinguish what, or who it was; and, moreover, had no thought of Christ, or expectation of seeing him; and the appearance of a man walking upon the waters being so unusual, and astonishing,

they were troubled, saying it is a spirit: a nocturnal apparition, a demon in human form. The Jews, especially the sect of the Pharisees, had a notion, from whom the disciples might have their's, of spirits, apparitions, and demons, being to be seen in the night; hence that rule (u),

"it is forbidden a man to salute his friend in the night, for we are careful, lest , "it should be a demon".''

They say a great many things of one "Lilith", that has its name from "the night", a she demon, that used to appear in the night, with an human face, and carry off young children, and kill them. Some such frightful notions had possessed the minds of the disciples:

and they cried out for fear, as persons in the utmost consternation, in the greatest danger, and in want of help: the fear of spirits arises from the uncommonness of their appearance; from their superiority to men in power and strength; from the enmity there is between men and evil spirits; and from a general notion of their doing hurt and mischief: hence, demons are, by the Jews, called "hurtful", or "hurting", all their study being to do hurt to men; and the same word is here used in Munster's Hebrew Gospel: add to all this, that the fear of the disciples might be increased, through a vulgar notion among seafaring men, that such sights are ominous, and portend evil to sailors; and they might the more easily be induced to give credit to this, and fear, since they were already in such imminent danger.

(u) T. Bab. Megilla, fol. 3. 1. Sanhedrim, fol. 44. 1.

And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a {d} spirit; and they cried out for fear.

(d) A spirit, as it is taken here, is that which a man imagines to himself vainly in his mind, persuading himself that he sees something when he sees nothing.

Matthew 14:26 ff. Ἐπὶ τῆς θαλάσσης (see critical notes): upon the sea. There, just at that spot, they saw Him walking as He was coming toward them over the sea (Matthew 14:25). Observe the appropriate change of cases. For genitive, comp. Job 9:8. περιπατῶνἐπὶ θαλάσσης, Lucian, Philops. xiii. ἐφʼ ὕδατος βαδίζοντα, 14 :hist. ii. 4, al.

φάντασμα] They shared (Luke 24:37) the popular belief in apparitions (Plat. Phaed. p. 81 D: ψυχῶν σκιοειδῆ φαντάσματα; Eur. Hec. 54; Lucian, Philops. 29; Wis 17:15). Comp. the nocturnos Lemures in Horace, Ep. ii. 2. 209.

Matthew 14:27. ἐλάλ. αὐτ.] ἀπὸ τῆς φωνῆς δῆλον ἑαυτὸν ποιεῖ, Chrysostom.

Matthew 14:28-31 are not found in any of the other Gospels, but their contents are entirely in keeping with Peter’s temperament (ὁ πανταχοῦ θερμὸς κ. ἀεὶ τῶν ἄλλων προπηδῶν, Chrysostom).

βλέπων] not: as He perceived, but: as He saw; for, when on the sea, He was in immediate contact with the manifestations of the storm.

καταποντίζεσθαι] “pro modo fidei ferebatur ab aqua” (Bengel); namely, by the influence of Christ’s power, for which influence, however, he became unreceptive through doubt, and accordingly began to sink.

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.

Matthew 14:26. Ἐτάραχθησαν, they were troubled) We often take Christ for another rather than for Christ: cf. Matthew 14:2. The disciples now feared not only the sea, but also the Lord.—φάντασμα, an apparition) φάντασμα and φάσμα are identical in meaning. See Wis 17:15; Wis 17:4. Nor does φαντασία greatly differ from them. Ibid. Matthew 18:17.

Verse 26. - And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit - an apparition (Revised Version, φάντασμά ἐστιν) - and they cried out for fear. Matthew 14:26A spirit (φάντασμα)

Of which our word phantasm is a transcription. Rev., rather stiffly, apparition. Wyc., phantom.

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