Matthew 16:7
And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(7) It is because we have taken no bread.—There is a childish naïveté in their self-questioning which testifies to the absolute originality and truthfulness of the record, and so to the genuineness of the question which follows, and which assumes the reality of the two previous miracles. The train of thought which connected the warning and the fact was probably hardly formulated even in their own minds. It may be that they imagined that as the Pharisee would not eat of bread that had been defiled by the touch of heathen or publican, so their Master forbade them, however great their need, to receive food at the hands of either of the sects that had combined against Him.

16:5-12 Christ speaks of spiritual things under a similitude, and the disciples misunderstand him of carnal things. He took it ill that they should think him as thoughtful about bread as they were; that they should be so little acquainted with his way of preaching. Then understood they what he meant. Christ teaches by the Spirit of wisdom in the heart, opening the understanding to the Spirit of revelation in the word.Take heed ... - That is, be cautious, be on your guard.

The leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees - Leaven is used in making bread.

It passes secretly, silently, but certainly through the mass of dough. See the notes at Matthew 13:33. "None can see its progress." So it was with the doctrines of the Pharisees. They were insinuating, artful, plausible. They concealed the real tendency of their doctrines; they instilled them secretly into the mind, until they pervaded all the faculties like leaven.

They reasoned ... - The disciples did not understand him as referring to the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees, because the word "leaven" was not often used among the Jews to denote doctrines, no other instance of this use of the word occurring in the Scriptures. Besides, the Jews had many particular rules about the leaven (yeast) which might be used in making bread. Many held that it was not lawful to eat bread made by the Gentiles; and the disciples, perhaps, supposed that he was cautioning them not to procure a supply from the Pharisees and Sadducees.

O ye of little faith! - Jesus, in reply, said that they should not be so anxious about the supply of their temporal wants. They should not have supposed, after the miracles that he had performed in feeding so many, that he would caution them to be anxious about procuring bread for their necessities. It was improper, then, for them to reason about a thing like that, but they should have supposed that he referred to something more important. The miracles had been full proof that he could supply all their wants without such anxiety.

CHAPTER 16

Mt 16:1-12. A Sign from Heaven Sought and Refused—Caution against the Leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

For the exposition, see on [1315]Mr 8:11-21.

Ver. 5-7. Mark saith, Mark 8:14-16, Now the disciples had forgotten to take bread, neither had they in the ship with them more than one loaf. And he charged them, saying, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod. And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have no bread. The disciples went into the ship without taking a due care for provision for their bodies, which they were sensible of when they came on shore on the other side. Christ happened in the mean time to give them a caution against the doctrine of the Pharisees, and Sadducees, and Herodians, which he properly expressed (though metaphorically) under the notion of leaven: this they understood not, but fancied that he had spoken this to them with reference to their want of bread, as if he had only given them warning, that for the making of bread to supply their necessity, they should not go to the Pharisees, or Sadducees, or Herodians, for leaven; or that they should not go to buy any bread of the Pharisees or of the Sadducees. So dull are we to understand spiritual things, and so soon had they forgot the doctrine which our Saviour had so lately taught them, Matthew 15:17,18, that those things which are foreign to a man, and come not out of his heart, do not defile a man, but those things only which proceed out of his heart. Either what should be the meaning of this caution of Christ's, and upon what account he should say this to them; or they were anxiously concerned what they should do for provision:

saying, because we have taken no bread; for the phrase, "it is", is a supplement, and is not in the original text, which confines the sense to the first way of interpretation; the words may be read without it, and confirms the other sense, and which receives strength from what follows.

And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Matthew 16:7 f. Owing to the notion of bread being associated in their minds with that of leaven, the words of Jesus led them to notice that their supply of the former article was exhausted, so that they supposed all the time that His object was to warn them against taking bread from the Pharisees and Sadducees.

διελογίζοντο] not disceptabant (Grotius, Kypke, Kuinoel), but: they consulted among themselves, i.e. they deliberate (λέγοντες) over the matter within their own circle without saying anything to Jesus, who, however, from His being able to penetrate their thoughts, is quite aware of what is going on, Matthew 16:8. Comp. Xen. Mem. iii. 5. 1.

ὅτι] not: recitative, but: (He says that) because we have not provided ourselves with bread. In Matthew 16:8 it means: over the fact, that.

τί διαλογ.] why, and so on, how meaningless and absurd it is!Matthew 16:7. ἐν ἑαυτοῖς: either each man in his own mind (Weiss), or among themselves, apart from the Master (Meyer).—ὅτι may be recitative or = “because”. He gives this warning because, etc.; sense the same. They take the Master to mean: do not buy bread from persons belonging to the obnoxious sects! or rather perhaps: do not take your directions as to the leaven to be used in baking from that quarter. Vide Lightfoot ad loc. Stupid mistake, yet pardonable when we remember the abruptness of the warning and the wide gulf between Master and disciples: He a prophet with prescient eye, seeing the forces of evil at work and what they were leading to; they very commonplace persons lacking insight and foresight. Note the solitariness of Christ.7. It is because we have taken no bread] “Neither had they more than one loaf” (Mark). It is possible that Jesus may have employed figurative language even more than was usual with Eastern teachers; certainly this special metaphorical use of leaven was new. See Lightfoot ad loc. Again, the Pharisees had rules of their own as to what kind of leaven it was lawful to use, and what kind it was right to avoid. Hence it was not strange that the disciples should imagine that their Master was laying down similar rules for their guidance.

The error of the disciples was twofold; (1) they took “leaven” in a literal sense, (2) they thought Jesus intended a rebuke to their forgetfulness. The first (1) implied a want of spiritual insight; the second (2) a want of trust.Matthew 16:7. Ἄρτους, loaves) The mode of living in the family of Jesus was extremely simple and frugal. They thought that they should have to buy bread in the place to which they were now coming, and that there would not be a sufficiency of bread there, which could be ascertained not to have been subjected to the leaven of the Pharisees. Our Lord answers, that even if no other bread could be procured, yet that He would feed them even without the bread of the Pharisees or any of that whole region.Verse 7. - They reasoned among themselves. With a crass literalness, the apostles utterly misunderstood the drift of their Master's warning, and thought that he alluded to their forgetfulness in coming without bread. They were always slow to apprehend the metaphorical and spiritual signification of their Master's language. Thus at the synagogue in Capernaum they failed to grasp his meaning when he spoke of himself as the Bread of life (John 6.), and at Jacob's well they interpreted of material food his Divine words concerning the nourishment of the soul (John 4.). It is well remarked by Sadler (in loc.) that "it is no small proof of the good faith and consequent truth of the gospel, that the apostles should have recorded things so against themselves as this account. If they had written for any purpose except the simple exhibition of the truth, they could easily have suppressed facts such as this, so very discreditable to their spiritual, indeed to their mental, perception. But if we had lost accounts such as these, we should have lost the proof of one of the greatest, if not the greatest, miracle of its kind; for no miraculous change in the spirit of man which God has wrought can be accounted greater than this - that men who, before the resurrection and the Day of Pentecost, should have exhibited such utter want of the lowest spiritual discernment, should, after the descent of the Spirit, have written such searching spiritual documents as the catholic Epistles of Peter and John." In the present case some commentators take it that the apostles fancied Christ was warning them against procuring any leavened bread from Pharisees and Sadducees, whom Jesus so sternly denounced; but it is more probable that their anxiety arose simply from the want of provisions, not from the consideration that they were debarred from obtaining them at the hands of certain parties. These doubts they seem to have whispered one to another.
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