Not that which goes into the mouth defiles a man; but that which comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Not that which goeth into the mouth.—Up to this time the question had been debated indirectly. The scribes had been convicted of unfitness to speak with authority on moral questions. Now a great broad principle is asserted, which not only cut at the root of Pharisaism, but, in its ultimate tendency. swept away the whole Levitical system of ceremonial purity—the distinction between clean and unclean meats and the like. It went, as the amazement of the disciples showed, far beyond their grasp as yet. Even after the day of Pentecost, Peter still prided himself on the observance of the Law which was thus annulled, and boasted that he had never “eaten anything common or unclean” (Acts 10:14). So slow were even those who had sat at the feet of Jesus to take in the thought that purity was inward and not outward, a spiritual and not a physical quality.
Christ replies that what they should eat could not render them sinners. The man, the moral agent, the soul, could not be polluted by anything that was eaten. What proceeds from the man himself, from his heart, would defile him.Mark 7:15. Our Saviour turns off his discourse from the Pharisees and scribes, who he saw were indocible, to the multitude, in whom he discerned a more teachable temper: he useth the preface,
Hear, and understand, as well knowing how they had been taught, and what an advantage error in possession hath. That which he tells them, and that before the scribes and Pharisees, (as will appear by the following verses), was, that that which goeth into a man doth not defile him, but that which cometh out of him. He speaketh not of a Levitical pollution, for so he that did eat of an unclean thing might by it be defiled; but even in such an eating it was not the flesh of the unclean bird or beast that defiled the man, but his sinful lusting after it, and eating it in disobedience to the command of God.
"forbidden meats are unclean themselves, "and defile both body and soul".''
The first food of man was herbs; after the flood he had an allowance of the flesh of beasts, without distinction; under the Levitical dispensation, a difference of meats was enjoined to be observed; the laws respecting that distinction are now abolished, and not binding on us under the Gospel dispensation. Some scruples, about some of these things, did arise among the first Christians; but in process of time these difficulties were got over: nor is there any religion in abstinence from any sort of food; men, indeed, on a "physical" account, ought to be careful what they eat and drink, but not on a religious one; moderation in all ought to be used; and whatever is ate or drank, should be received with thankfulness, and done to the glory of God, and then no defilement can arise from hence:
but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man. It is sin, and that only, which takes its rise from the heart, lies in thought, and is either expressed by the mouth, or performed by some outward action, which defiles the man, and renders him loathsome, abominable, and odious in the sight of God. The heart is the source of all evil; the pollution of it is very early, and very general, reaching to all the powers and faculties of the soul; which shows the ignorance of some, and folly of others, that talk of, and trust to the goodness of their hearts; and also the necessity of new hearts and right spirits being formed and created; and that the sinful thoughts of the heart, and the lusts thereof, are defiling to men; and that they are sinful in God's account, and abominable in his sight; that they are loathsome to sensible sinners, and are to be repented of, and forsaken by them; and need the pardoning grace of God or otherwise will be brought into judgment. Sinful words, which, through the abundance of wickedness in the heart, come out of the mouth, have the same influence and effect: words are of a defiling nature; with these men pollute both themselves and others: the tongue, though a little member, defiles the whole body; and evil and corrupt communication proceeding out of the mouth, corrupts the best of manners, and renders men loathsome to God, and liable to his awful judgment. And this is the nature of all sinful actions; they are what God can take no pleasure in; they are disagreeable, to a sensible mind; they leave a stain, which can never be removed by any thing the creature can do; nothing short of the blood of Christ can cleanse from it; and inasmuch as they are frequently committed, there is need of continual application to it. These are now the things men should be concerned about, as of a defiling nature; and not about meats and drinks, and the manner of using them, whether with hands washed, or unwashed.Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Matthew 15:11. Κοινοῖ] makes common, profanes (חִלֵּל), comp. 4Ma 7:6, nowhere found in classical writers; in the New Testament, in Acts 10:15; Acts 11:9; Acts 21:28; Hebrews 9:13; Revelation 21:27. What Jesus has in view at present is not legal, but moral defilement, and which is not produced (1 Timothy 4:4) by what goes into the mouth (food and drink, as well as the partaking of these with unwashed hands), but by that which comes out of it (improper language). So far as can be gathered from the context, he is not saying anything against the Mosaic regulations relating to meats, though one cannot help regarding what he does say as so applicable to these, as to bring into view the prospect of their abrogation as far as they are merely ceremonial (comp. Keim, and Weizsäcker, p. 463), and, as a consequence of this latter, the triumph of the idea which they embody, i.e. their fulfillment (Matthew 5:17). Observe, further, that it is meat and drink only in themselves considered, that he describes as matters of indifference, saying nothing at present as to the special circumstances in which partaking of the one or the other might be regarded as sinful (excess, offences, 1 Corinthians 8, and so on). See Matthew 15:17.Matthew 15:11. imple direct appeal to the moral sense of mankind; one of those emancipating words which sweep away the cobwebs of artificial systems; better than elaborate argument. It is called a parable in Matthew 15:15, but it is not a parable in the strict sense here whatever it may be in Mk. (vide notes there). Parables are used to illustrate the ethical by the natural. This saying is itself ethical: τὸ ἐκπορευόμενον ἐκ τοῦ στόματος refers to words as expressing thoughts and desires (Matthew 15:19).—οὐ τὸ εἰσερ. εἰς τὸ στόμα: refers to food of all sorts; clean God taken with unclean hands, and food in itself unclean. The drift of the saying therefore is: ceremonial uncleanness, however caused, a small matter, moral uncleanness the one thing to be dreaded. This goes beyond the tradition of the elders, and virtually abrogates the Levitical distinctions between clean and unclean. A sentiment worthy of Jesus and suitable to an occasion when He was compelled to emphasise the supreme importance of the ethical in the law—the ethical emphatically the law of God (τὴν ἐντολὴν τοῦ θεοῦ, Matthew 15:3).11. defileth] Literally, maketh common; cp. “common or unclean,” Acts 10:14. “The Pharisees esteemed ‘defiled’ men for ‘common and vulgar’ men; on the contrary, a religious man among men is ‘a singular man.’ ” Lightfoot ad loc.Matthew 15:11. Οὐ, κ.τ.λ., not, etc.) Unless such were the case, the faithful could not, without the greatest disgust, inhabit a world subject to vanity.—τὸ ἐκπορευόμενον, that which cometh out) Original sin is evidently here implied.—τοῦτο, this) used demonstratively.Verse 11. - Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man. The word rendered "defileth" (κοινοῖ) means "renders common," in opposition to ἁγιάζειν, "to separate" for God's use; hence the verb, ethically applied, signifies "to contract guilt." The rabbis taught that certain meats of themselves polluted the soul, made it abominable in God's sight. This was a perversion of the law respecting clean and unclean food. The pollution or guilt arose, not from the nature of the meat, but from the eating of it in contravention of a positive command. It was the disobedience, not the food, which affected the soul. It is remarkable that these distinctions of meats still obtain among half the civilized inhabitants of the world - Buddhists, Hindoos, Mohammedans - and that one of the hardest tasks of Christian missionaries is to make men understand the non-importance of these differences. We do not see that Christ here abrogated the Levitical Law, but he certainly prepared the way for its supersession and transformation. But he made no sudden and violent change in the constituted order of things. Indeed, some distinctions were maintained in apostolical times, as we read in Acts 10:14; Acts 15:20, 29; and it was only gradually, and as circumstances made their observation impossible, that such ceremonial obligations were regarded as obsolete. It is, perhaps, with the view of not shocking inveterate prejudice, that he does not say, "No food whatever defileth," but "That which goeth into the mouth" defileth not, referring especially to the notion above reprehended, that eating with unwashen hands polluted the food taken and the soul of the person who consumed it. Our Lord says nothing of excess, e.g. gluttony and drunkenness, which, of course, has a polluting and deteriorating effect on the moral nature (see Luke 21:34). But that which cometh out of the mouth. In the former sentence the mouth is regarded simply as the instrument for receiving food and preparing it for digestion; in this sentence it is considered as the organ of the heart, that which gives outward expression to inward thoughts and conceptions. Fillion distinguishes them as "la bouche physique, et la bouche morale." Philo has well said, "The mouth is that by which, as Plato puts it, mortal things enter, and whence immortal things issue. For therein pass meat and drink, the perishable food of a perishable body; but from it proceed words, immortal laws of an immortal soul, by which the rational life is directed and governed" ('De Mundi Opif.,' § 40). Defileth a man. Pollutes his soul, not with merely ceremonial defilement, but intrinsically and morally. Of course, our Lord is referring to evil words, etc., as he explains in ver. 19. For the mouth may give utterance to God's praise, words of love, sympathy, edification. But the evil in a man's heart will show itself in his mouth; and the open expression will react on the wicked thought, and make it more substantial, deadly, and operative.
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