Matthew 17:17
Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(17) O faithless and perverse generation.—The words were obviously addressed both to the scribes and the disciples. Both had shown their want of the faith which utters itself in prayer to the Father; both were alike “perverse,” in finding in the misery brought before them only an occasion of wrangling and debate. This was not the way to obtain the power to heal, and the formulae of exorcism were but as an idle charm, without the faith of which they were meant to be the expression.

How long shall I suffer you?—The words are significant as suggesting the thought that our Lord’s whole life was one long tolerance of the waywardness and perversity of men.

Bring him hither to me.—St. Mark, whose record is here by far the fullest, relates that at this moment “the spirit tare him,” and that he “wallowed foaming,” in the paroxysm of a fresh convulsion; that our Lord then asked, “How long is it ago since this came unto him?” and was told that he had suffered from his childhood; that the father appealed, half-despairing, to our Lord’s pity, “If thou canst do anything, have compassion on us, and help us;” and was told that it depended on his own faith, “If thou canst believe; all things are possible to him that believeth;” and then burst out into the cry of a faith struggling with his despair, “Lord, I believe; help Thou my unbelief;” and that that faith, weak as it was, was accepted as sufficient.

17:14-21 The case of afflicted children should be presented to God by faithful and fervent prayer. Christ cured the child. Though the people were perverse, and Christ was provoked, yet care was taken of the child. When all other helps and succours fail, we are welcome to Christ, may trust in him, and in his power and goodness. See here an emblem of Christ's undertaking as our Redeemer. It encourages parents to bring children to Christ, whose souls are under Satan's power; he is able to heal them, and as willing as he is able. Not only bring them to Christ by prayer, but bring them to the word of Christ; to means by which Satan's strong-holds in the soul are beaten down. It is good for us to distrust ourselves and our own strength; but it is displeasing to Christ when we distrust any power derived from him, or granted by him. There was also something in the malady which rendered the cure difficult. The extraordinary power of Satan must not discourage our faith, but quicken us to more earnestness in praying to God for the increase of it. Do we wonder to see Satan's bodily possession of this young man from a child, when we see his spiritual possession of every son of Adam from the fall!Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation! - Perverse means that which is twisted or turned from the proper direction; and is often used of the eyes, when one or both are turned from their natural position. Applied to a generation or race of people, it means that they hold opinions turned or perverted from the truth, and that they were wicked in their conduct. Jesus applied this, probably, to the Jews, and not to his real disciples.

How long shall I suffer you? - That is, how long shall I bear with you? How long is it necessary to show such patience and forbearance with your unbelief and perversity? This was not so much an expression of impatience or complaint as a reproof for their being so slow to believe that he was the Messiah, notwithstanding his miracles.

Mark adds Mark 9:20-22 that when he that was possessed was brought, the spirit, by a last desperate struggle, threw him down and tore him, and left him apparently dead. He adds further, that the case had existed during the whole life of his son, from a child. This was a case of uncommon obstinacy. The affliction was fixed and lasting. The disciples, seeing the obstinacy of the case - seeing that he was a deaf-mute, wasted away, torn, and foaming - despaired of being able to cure him. They lacked the faith which was necessary; doubted whether they could cure him, and therefore could not.

The father of the child said Mark 9:22, "If thou canst do anything, have compassion on us and help us;" an expression implying a weak faith, a lingering doubt whether he could restore him. Jesus replied to this, "If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth" Mark 9:23; implying that the difficulty in the case was not that he could not heal him, but that he had not the proper kind and degree of faith with which to come to him. That is, this cure shall be effected if you have faith. Not that his faith would give Jesus the power to heal him, but it would render it proper that he should exert that power in his favor. In this way, and in this only, are all things possible to believers.

The man had faith, Mark 9:24. The father came, as a father should do, weeping, and praying that his faith might be increased, so as to make it proper that Jesus should interpose in his behalf, and save his child.

Help my unbelief, Mark 9:24. This was an expression of humility. If my faith is defective, supply what is lacking. Help me to overcome my unbelief. Let not the defect of my faith be in the way of this blessing.

Mt 17:14-23. Healing of a Demoniac Boy—Second Explicit Announcement by Our Lord of His Approaching Death and Resurrection. ( = Mr 9:14-32; Lu 9:37-45).

The time of this section is sufficiently denoted by the events which all the narratives show to have immediately preceded it—the first explicit announcement of His death, and the transfiguration—both being between His third and His fourth and last Passover.

Healing of the Demoniac and Lunatic Boy (Mt 17:14-21).

For the exposition of this portion, see on [1322]Mr 9:14-32.

Second Announcement of His Death (Mt 17:22, 23).

See Poole on "Matthew 17:18".

Then Jesus answered and said,.... Not to the disciples, but to the father of the child; see Mark 9:19 and those that were with him, and the Scribes that were present, disputing with the disciples, upbraiding them with their weakness, and triumphing over them: "O faithless and perverse generation"; a way of speaking, which is never used of the disciples, and indeed could not be properly said of them; for though they often appeared to be men of little faith, yet not faithless; nor were they so rebellious, stubborn, and perverse, as here represented, though there was a great deal of perverseness in them: but the characters better suit the body of the Jewish nation, who, on account of the incredulity of this man, and those that were present, being of the same temper with them, are exclaimed against in words, which were long ago spoken of their ancestors, Deuteronomy 32:5 and from whence they seem to be taken.

How long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? Upbraiding them with the length of time he had been with them, in which so many wonderful works had been done among them, and yet they remained unbelieving and incorrigible; and intimating, that his patience and longsuffering would not always continue; and that in a short time, he should be gone from them, and they should no longer enjoy the benefit of his ministry and miracles, but wrath should come upon them to the uttermost: but however, whilst he was with them, notwithstanding all their unbelief and obstinacy, he should go on to do good; and therefore says,

bring him hither to me, meaning the lunatic child. These words also are directed, not unto the disciples, but to the father of the child; for so it is said in Luke 9:41 "bring thy son hither"; and so the Syriac renders it here "bring thou him"; though, as expressed in the plural number, may very well be thought to intend him, and his friends.

Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Matthew 17:17. O unbelieving and perverse generation! Comp. Php 2:15. By this Jesus does not mean the scribes (Calvin), but is aiming at His disciples, who are expected to apply the exclamation to themselves, in consequence of their not being able to cure the lad of his disease. In no sparing fashion, but filled with painful emotion, He ranks them, owing to their want of an energetic faith, in the category of the unbelieving generation, and hence it is that He addresses it. Bengel fitly observes: “severo elencho discipuli accensentur turbae.” That the disciples are intended (Fritzsche, Baumgarten-Crusius, Steinmeyer, Volkmar), is likewise evident from Matthew 17:20. They wanted the requisite amount of confidence in the miraculous powers conferred upon them by Christ. The strong terms ἄπιστος κ. διεστραμμ. (Deuteronomy 32:5; Php 2:5; Php 2:15), are to be explained from the deep emotion of Jesus. Nor can the people be meant, who are not concerned at all, any more than the father of the sufferer, who, in fact, invoked the help of Jesus because he had faith in Him. The words are consequently to be referred neither to all who were present (Paulus, Kuinoel, Olshausen, Krabbe, Bleek, Ewald), nor to the father (Chrysostom, Theophylact, Euth. Zigabenus, Grotius), nor to him and the people (Keim), in which latter case many go the length of holding that the disciples are exculpated, and the blame of the failure imputed to the father himself (οὐ τῆς ἐκείνων ἀσθενείας τοσοῦτον τὸ πταῖσμα, ὅσον τῆς σῆς ἀπιστίας, Theophylact). In opposition to the context (Matthew 17:16; Matthew 17:20). Neander and de Wette explain the words in the sense of John 4:48, as though Jesus were reflecting upon those who as yet have not known what it is to come to Him under a sense of their deepest wants, and so on.

ἕως πότε κ.τ.λ.] a passing touch of impatience in the excitement of the moment: How long is the time going to last during which I must be amongst you and bear with your weakness of faith, want of receptivity, and so on?

φέρετε] like what precedes, is addressed to the disciples; it was to them that the lunatic had been brought, Matthew 17:16. This in answer to Fritzsche, who thinks that Jesus “generatim loquens” refers to the father.

Matthew 17:17. ὦ γενεὰ: exclamation of impatience and disappointment, as if of one weary in well-doing, or averse to such work just then. Who are referred to we can only conjecture, and the guesses are various. Probably more or less all present: parent, disciples, scribes (Mark 9:14). Jesus was far away in spirit from all, lonely, worn out, and longing for the end, as the question following (ἕως πότε, etc.) shows. It is the utterance of a fine-strung nature, weary of the dulness, stupidity, spiritual insusceptibility (ἄπιστος), not to speak of the moral perversity (διεστραμμένη) all around Him. But we must be careful not to read into it peevishness or ungraciousness. Jesus had not really grown tired of doing good, or lost patience with the bruised reed and smoking taper. The tone of His voice, gently reproachful, would show that. Perhaps the complaint was spoken in an undertone, just audible to those near, and then, aloud: φέρετέ μοι: bring him to me, said to the crowd generally, therefore plural.

17. O faithless and perverse generation] addressed to the scribes and the multitude thronging round, as representing the whole nation. The disciples, if not specially addressed, are by no means excluded from the rebuke.

Matthew 17:17. Ἄπιστος, κ.τ.λ.,, faithless, etc.) By a severe rebuke the disciples are reckoned as a part of the multitude.—ἕως πότε, how long) After Jesus had received an accession of strength on the Mount, a more grievous instance of human unbelief and misery demanded and obtained His succour; cf. Exodus 32:19.[791]—ἔσομαι, κ.τ.λ., shall I be, etc.) He was in haste to return to the Father; yet He knew that He could not effect His departure until He had conducted His disciples to a state of faith. Their slowness was painful to Him; see John 14:9; John 16:31.—μεθʼ ὑμῶν, with you) Jesus was not of this world.—ἀνέξομαι, shall I suffer) An instance of Metonymia Consequentis.[792] The life of Jesus was a continued act of toleration.

[791] The transfiguration may have probably been the most delightful, and the case of the lunatic the most painful, of the events which befell Jesus whilst sojourning on the earth.—V. g.

[792] See explanation of technical terms in Appendix.—(I. B.)

Here, the substitution of the consequent for the antecedent. Jesus puts His toleration of them (the consequent) instead of His sojourning with them (the antecedent of the former).—ED.

Verse 17. - Jesus answered. Jesus did not directly respond to the father's appeal, nor repel the Pharisees' scoffs. In sorrow and indignation he goes at once to the root of the evil. O faithless and perverse generation! He seems to include in this denunciation all who were present - the father, scribes, people, apostles, especially the nine. Want of faith appertained to all. He often refers to the general body of his bearers by the term generation (comp. Matthew 11:16; Matthew 12:29, etc.). Perverse. The word is used by Moses in his great song (Deuteronomy 32:5, Septuagint) in reference to those who dealt corruptly; here it applies to persons who took a distorted view of Christ's work and teaching, and against light and knowledge obstinately persisted in their infidelity. How long shall I be with you?... suffer you? The sad question is not that of one who wants his work finished and his time of departure hastened; rather, it shows his sorrow and regret at the slowness of faith, the hardness of heart, which yet, notwithstanding all his teaching and his miracles, had not been overcome. How much longer was this to continue? Was this forgetfulness of the past, this dulness of comprehension, to last forever? Did they wish to wear out his long suffering, to exhaust his condescension? With Divine impatience at man's obduracy, he makes this mournful inquiry. Bring (φέρετε, bring ye) him hither to me. He speaks to the attendants or the crowd, and bids them bring the boy to him, not to the disciples. The prophet's staff in Gehazi's hand could not awake the dead; Elisha himself must undertake the work (2 Kings 4:31); so if the desired miracle had to he performed, Christ himself must do it. In spite of his grief and disappointment, he does not withhold relief, in the midst of wrath he remembers mercy. Matthew 17:17Perverse (διεστραμμένη)

Wyc., wayward. Tynd., crooked; διά, throughout ; στερέφω, to twist. Warped.

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