Matthew 26:6
Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper,
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(6) Now when Jesus was in Bethany.—The narrative is given out of its proper order on account of its connection (as indicated in St. John’s record) with the act of the Traitor. St. John fixes it (John 12:1) at six days before the Passover, i.e., on the evening that preceded the entry into Jerusalem. It was, therefore, a feast such as Jews were wont to hold at the close of the Sabbath.

In the house of Simon the leper.—Of the man so described we know nothing beyond the fact thus mentioned. It is not likely, had he been a leper at the time, that men would have gathered to a feast at his house, and it is natural to infer that our Lord had healed him, but that the name still adhered to him to distinguish him from other Simons. We learn from St. John (John 12:2) that Lazarus was there, and that Martha, true to her character, was busy “serving.” The Twelve were also there, and probably many others. The incident that follows is narrated by all the Evangelists except St. Luke, who may either not have heard it from his informants, or, if he had heard it, may have passed it over as having already recorded a fact of like character (Luke 7:37-40).

Matthew 26:6-13. When Jesus was in the house of Simon the leper — That is, who had been a leper, but, as seems highly probable, had been healed by Jesus. At least, it is not to be thought that he was now a leper, for in that case he would not have been suffered to live in a town, nor would any Jew have come to an entertainment in his house. There came a woman — Probably Mary, the sister of Lazarus, for it is highly probable, as Dr. Doddridge has shown, that the anointing of Jesus here mentioned, is the same with that recorded John 12:1. Having an alabaster box, &c. — Being deeply affected with the many instances that Christ had given her and her sister Martha of his love, and especially by his late mercy in recovering her dear brother Lazarus from the grave, she was therefore solicitous to give some uncommon token of her gratitude to so excellent a person. She brake the box, says Mark, and poured the precious ointment, or rich balsam, on his head. See note on John 12:3. When the disciples saw it, they had indignation — Several of them were angry, though none so much so as Judas, saying, To what purpose is this waste? — Such a quantity of this rich balsam poured out to so little purpose. For this ointment might have been sold for much — The disciples being sensible that their Master was not delighted with luxuries of any kind, were grieved, and murmured against the woman, says Mark, for throwing away so much money idly, as they imagined. But they expressed themselves so as to cast a tacit reflection on Jesus himself. Jesus said, Why trouble ye the woman? — Why do ye grieve and distress the good woman, of whose piety and friendship we have had so long an experience? For she hath wrought a good work upon me — Hath given a great proof of her faith, gratitude, and love; and therefore deserves to be commended rather than to be blamed. For with respect to what has been now suggested, in favour of the poor, ye have them always with you — By the wise and gracious providence of God, it does, and always will happen, that objects needing your compassion and charity shall always be with you, that you may always have opportunities of relieving their wants, and so of laying up for yourselves treasures in heaven. But me ye have not always — I am soon to leave you, and to be placed beyond the reach of your kindness. In that she hath poured this ointment on my body — On my feet as well as my head; see John 12:4. She did it for my burial — As it were, for the embalming of my body. Indeed this was not her design; but our Lord puts this construction upon it, to confirm thereby what he had before said to his disciples concerning his approaching death. Verily, wheresoever this gospel — That is, this part of the gospel history; shall be preached, this that this woman hath done shall be told, &c. — To make them further sensible of their folly in blaming her for this expression of her love to him, he assured them that however much she might be condemned by them, she should be highly celebrated for this action through the world, and live in the memory of all ages.

26:6-13 The pouring ointment upon the head of Christ was a token of the highest respect. Where there is true love in the heart to Jesus Christ, nothing will be thought too good to bestow upon him. The more Christ's servants and their services are cavilled at, the more he manifests his acceptance. This act of faith and love was so remarkable, that it would be reported, as a memorial of Mary's faith and love, to all future ages, and in all places where the gospel should be preached. This prophecy is fulfilled.In Bethany - See the notes at Matthew 21:1.

Simon the leper - Simon, who had been a leper.

Leper - See the notes at Matthew 8:1. It was unlawful to eat with persons that had the leprosy, and it is more than probable, therefore, that this Simon had been healed - perhaps by our Lord himself. John Joh 12:1 says that this was the house where Lazarus was, who had been raised from the dead. Probably Lazarus was a relative of Simon's, and was living with him. Further, he says that they made a supper for Jesus, and that Martha served. He says that this was six days before the Passover. From the order in which Matthew and Mark mention it, it would have been supposed that it was but two days before the Passover, and after the cleansing of the temple; but it is to be observed,

1. that Matthew and Mark often neglect the exact order of the events that they record.

2. that they do not "affirm" at what time this was. They leave it indefinite, saying that "while" Jesus was in Bethany he was anointed by Mary.

3. that Matthew introduced it here for the purpose of giving a "connected" account of the conduct of "Judas." "Judas" complained at the waste of the ointment John 12:4, and one of the effects of his indignation, it seems, was to betray his Lord.


Mt 26:1-16. Christ's Final Announcement of his Death, as Now within Two Days, and the Simultaneous Conspiracy of the Jewish Authorities to Compass It—The Anointing at Bethany—Judas Agrees with the Chief Priests to Betray His Lord. ( = Mr 14:1-11; Lu 22:1-6; Joh 12:1-11).

For the exposition, see on [1361]Mr 14:1-11.

See Poole on "Matthew 26:13".

Now when Jesus was in Bethany,.... Which was about fifteen furlongs from Jerusalem, John 11:18, or about two miles from it. The time of Christ's death being at hand, he keeps nigh to Jerusalem, where he was to suffer and die, in the room and stead of sinners:

in the house of Simon the leper; so called, to distinguish him from others of the name. This epithet was either a family one, some person of note in it having been a leper; or else he is so named, because he himself had been one, but was now cured; though the reason interpreters give for this, that otherwise he would not have been suffered to live in a town, is not a good one; for lepers, according to the Jewish (b) canons, were only forbid Jerusalem, and towns and cities that were walled round, and not others, such as the village of Bethany. There were many lepers healed by Christ, which, among other things, was an evidence of his being the Messiah, and a proof of his deity, and this Simon was one of them; whether the same mention is made of in Matthew 8:1, is not certain, nor very probable; since that man lived in Galilee, at, or near Capernaum; this at Bethany, near Jerusalem: however, he was one of those lepers that had a sense of his mercy, and was grateful for it, as appears by his entertaining Christ at his house; and may teach us thankfulness to Christ, who has healed all our diseases; and particularly, the spreading leprosy of sin, with which all the powers and faculties of our souls were infected; and which was not in our own power, or any creature's, to cure, but his blood cleanses from it: and it may be observed, that Christ goes in and dwells with such whom he heals, and with such he is always welcome.

(b) Misn. Celim, c. 1. sect. 7. Maimon. Beth Hamikdash, c. 3. sect. 8.

{3} Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper,

(3) By this sudden work of a sinful woman, Christ helps the guests to understand about his death and burial which was near: the gracious result of which will bring life to all sinners who flee unto him. But Judas takes an occasion here to accomplish his wicked purpose and plan.

Matthew 26:6 ff. This anointing, which is also recorded in Mark 14:3 ff. (followed by Matthew), is not the same as that of Luke 7:36 ff., but is so essentially different from it, not only as to the time, place, circumstances, and person, but as to the whole historical and ethical connection and import, that even the peculiar character of the incident is not sufficient to warrant the assumption that each case is but another version of one and the same story (in opposition to Chrysostom, Grotius, Schleiermacher, Schr. d. Luk. p. 110 ff.; Strauss, Weisse, Hug, Ewald, Bleek, Baur, Hilgenfeld, Schenkel, Keim). This, however, is not a different incident (in opposition to Origen, Chrysostom, Jerome, Theophylact, Euthymius Zigabenus, Osiander, Lightfoot, Wolf) from that recorded in John 12:1 ff.[23] The deviations in John’s account of the affair—to the effect that the anointing took place not two, but six days before the feast; that Martha was the entertainer, no mention being made of Simon; that it was not the head, but the feet of Jesus that were anointed; and that the carping about extravagance is specially ascribed to Judas—are not to be disposed of by arbitrarily assuming that the accounts of the different evangelists were intended to supplement each other (Ebrard, Wichelhaus, Lange), but are to be taken as justifying the inference that in John alone (not in Matthew and Mark) we have the narrative of an eye-witness. The incident, as given in Matthew and Mark, appears to be an episode taken from a tradition which had lost its freshness and purity, and inserted without exact historical connection, although, on the whole, in its right order, if with less regard to precision as to the time of its occurrence. Hence the loose place it occupies in the pragmatism of the passage, from which one might imagine it removed altogether, without the connection being injured in the slightest degree. The tradition on which the narrative of Matthew and Mark is based had evidently suffered in its purity from getting mixed up with certain disturbing elements from the first version of the story of the anointing in Luke 7, among which elements we may include the statement that the name of the entertainer was Simon.

[23] On the controversy in which Faber Stapul. has been involved in consequence of his theory that Jesus had been anointed by three different Marys, see Graf in Niedner’s Zeitschr. f. histor. Theol. 1852, I. p. 54 ff. This distinguishing of three Marys (which was also adopted by so early an expositor as Euthymius Zigabenus, and by τινές, to whom Theophylact refers) is, in fact, rather too much at variance with the tradition that the sister of Lazarus is identical with the woman who was a sinner, Luke 7, and was no other than Mary Magdalene. Yet in none of the three accounts of anointing is this latter to be understood as the Mary referred to.

Matthew 26:6. Γενομ. ἐν Βηθαν] i.e. having come to Bethany, 2 Timothy 1:17; John 6:25, and frequently in classical writers; comp. on Php 2:7. To remove this visit back to a point of time previous to that indicated at Matthew 26:2, with the effect of simply destroying the sequence (Ebrard, Lange), is to do such harmonistic violence to the order observed in Matthew and Mark as the τότε of Matthew 26:14 should have been sufficient to avert.

Σίμωνος τοῦ λεπροῦ] In a way no less unwarrantable has the person here referred to (a person who had formerly been a leper, and who, after his healing, effected probably by Jesus, had continued to be known by this epithet) been associated with the family of Bethany; he has been supposed to have been the deceased father of this family (Theophylact, Ewald, Gesch. Chr. p. 481), or some other relative or friend (Grotius, Kuinoel, Ebrard, Lange, Bleek), or the owner of the house. Of the person who, according to Matthew and Mark, provided this entertainment, nothing further is known; whereas, according to John, the entertainment was given by the family of which Lazarus was a member; the latter is the correct view, the former is based upon the similar incident recorded in Luke 7.

Matthew 26:6-13. Anointing in Bethany (Mark 14:3-9, cf. John 12:1-11). Six days before Passover in John; no time fixed in Mt. and Mk. Certainly within Passion week. The thing chiefly to be noted is the setting of this pathetic scene, between priestly plotting and false discipleship. “Hatred and baseness on either hand and true love in the midst” (Training of the Twelve).

6. Simon the leper] i. e. he had been a leper. St John, in the parallel passage, says “they made him a supper, and Martha served; but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him.” Nothing further is known of Simon. He was evidently a disciple of Jesus and probably a near friend of Lazarus and his sisters.

6–13. The Feast in the house of Simon the Leper

Mark 14:3-9; John 12:1-8St John’s narrative places this incident on the evening of the Sabbath—the last Sabbath spent by Jesus on earth—before the triumphal entry. St Matthew has here disregarded the strictly chronological order.

Compare a similar act of devotion on the part of a “woman that was a sinner” (Luke 7:36-39).

Verses 6-13. - The anointing at Bethany. (Mark 14:3-9; John 12:1-8.) This parenthetical episode is introduced by the two synoptists out of its chronological order, with the view of indicating the immediate cause of Judas's resolution to betray his Master, the issue of which they proceed to narrate (see on ver. 14). This anointing must not be confounded with that related by St. Luke (Luke 7:37, etc.), where the scene, the time, and the actor were different, and the significance was of a very inferior nature. Verse 6. - When Jesus was in Bethany. St. John tells us that the incident took place six days before the Passover, i.e. on the Saturday preceding Palm Sunday. It is St. Matthew's custom to describe events not always in their historical sequence, but according to some logical or spiritual connection which in his mind overrides considerations of time or place. (For Bethany, see on Matthew 21:1.) Simon the leper. Not that he was a leper now, but either the appellation was hereditary, in reference to some such malady inflicted on his family, or he himself, having been cured by Christ, retained the name in memory of his cleansing. So St. Matthew is called "the publican" after he had relinquished his obnoxious business (Matthew 10:3), and the revived man is termed "the dead" (Luke 7:15). The frequency of the name Simon among the Jews rendered the addition of a surname expedient; thus we have Simon the Cananite, Simon the tanner, Simon Bar-john, etc. Nothing certain is known about this person. Tradition makes him father of Lazarus or husband of Martha. That he was connected with the holy family of Bethany, either by relationship or close friendship, seems to be well established. Matthew 26:6
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