When Jesus heard it, he marveled, and said to them that followed, Truly I say to you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)He marvelled.—The fact is stated in both records, and is not without significance in its bearing on the reality of our Lord’s human consciousness. Facts came to Him, in that true humanity, as to other men, unlooked-for, and as with a novelty that caused surprise.
I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.—The nature of the faith we have already seen. Israelites who sought our Lord’s healing work, craved for presence, or touch, even if it were only the hem of the garment; sometimes, as in the case of the blind, and dumb, and deaf, for yet more material signs. Here was one who believed in the power of the word of the Christ, and asked for nothing more.
I have not found so great faith - The word "faith," here, means "confidence" or belief that Christ had power to heal his servant. It does not of "necessity" imply that he had saving faith; though, from the connection and the spirit manifested, it seems probable that he had. If this was so, then he was the first Gentile convert to Christianity, and was a very early illustration of what was more clearly revealed afterward - that the pagan were to be brought to the knowledge of the truth.
Not in Israel - Israel was a name given to "Jacob" Genesis 32:28-29, because, as a prince, he had power with God; because he persevered in wrestling with the angel that met him, and obtained the blessing. The name is derived from two Hebrew words signifying "Prince" and "God." He was one of the patriarchs, a progenitor of the Jewish nation; and the names "Israel and Israelites" were given to them, as the name Romans to the Roman people was in honor of Romulus, and the name "American" to this continent from "Americus Vespuccius." The name Israel was given to the whole nation until the time of Jeroboam, when only the ten tribes that revolted received the name, probably because they were a majority of the nation. After the captivity of Babylon it was given to all the Jews indiscriminately. See Matthew 10:6; Acts 7:42; Hebrews 8:8; Mark 15:32. It here means, "I have not found such an instance of "confidence" among the Jews."
This incident belongs to a later stage. For the exposition, see on Lu 7:1-10.Luke 7:1-9, with some larger circumstances: there is only this difference between the two evangelists; Matthew seems to speak as if the centurion at first came in person to him; Luke saith, that he first sent the elders of the Jews to him, then some friends. But we are accounted ourselves to do that which we set others on work to do.
There came unto him a centurion; there came some elders of the Jews first, then some particular friends of one that was a Roman captain, to him, to tell him that the captain had a servant at his house that lay grievously sick of and tormented with the palsy; that which we usually call the dead palsy, in which a fit of the apoplexy usually issueth, when it doth not presently kill. Our Lord promises to come and heal him, therein showing both his kindness, and how acceptable to him the humanity of this centurion to his servant was. The centurion by his friends, as Luke tells us, sends to him, desiring him not to trouble himself to that degree, telling him.
1. That it was a favour of which he was not worthy. The best men have always the meanest thoughts of themselves.
2. That it was needless, for if he would only
speak the word, commanding out the distemper, that was enough to effect the cure. For he tells him, that he believed diseases were as much at Christ’s command as his servants were at his command. That they came at God’s command, wrought according to their commission from God, and went off when God commanded them off; so that if he, though at a distance, would command off his servant’s disease, it would be as effectual as his presence.
Whether this captain were actually proselyted to the Jewish religion or not, is uncertain: it should seem by our Saviour’s next words that he was not an Israelite; but it is most certain that he had a right notion of the power of the true God, and it looks very probable that he had a revelation of Christ, as the true Messiah and Son of God.
When Jesus heard it, he marvelled; admiration agreed not to Christ as God, but as man it did;
and said to them that followed him, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith in Israel; that is, in the generality of the Israelites, for if we speak of particular persons, both Joseph and Mary had showed a greater faith. This expression is enough to let us know, that the centurion was no native Israelite, and make it probable he was not of the Jewish church, which might be, though he was so kind to the Jewish nation as to build them a synagogue, upon which account, Luke 7:3, &c., the elders of the Jews pleaded with Christ for him. This made our Saviour go on, prophesying of a further conversion of the Gentiles.
and said to them that followed. This agrees perfectly with the account that Luke gives, that Christ was set out, with the messengers the centurion sent unto him, in order to come to his house, and heal his servant, and these that followed him were his disciples, and so some copies read, and others that were following him thither to see the miracle.
Verily, I say unto you; a strong asseveration, and which Christ used, when he was about to deliver anything of considerable importance, and required attention:
I have not found so great faith, no not in Israel: that is, among the people of Israel: so the Arabic version reads it, "in any of Israel"; and the Persic, "among the children of Israel"; and is to be understood, not of the patriarchs and prophets, and other eminent believers, which were in Israel formerly; but of the men of the then present generation, his mother and his apostles being excepted: though it may be questioned, whether the apostles themselves as yet, had expressed such a strong faith in him, as this man: or it may have a particular respect to them in Israel, who had applied to him for healing, and had been healed by him; that he had not met with and observed any such expression of faith, in his divine power from them, as this centurion had delivered. And it was the more remarkable, that it came from a Gentile, and from a soldier too: but as great as it was, he did not exceed it; he did not ascribe more to Christ than was proper, and which, by the way, is a clear proof of our Lord's divinity: for had he not been truly God, he would have rebuked, and not have commended this man's faith in him: who ascribed that power to him, which is peculiar to God: he is so far from finding fault with him, for thinking or speaking so highly of him, that he praises him for it, and prefers his faith in him, to any instance of it he had met with among the Israelites; who yet had far greater advantages of knowing him, and believing in him. There is a phrase in the Talmud (m) somewhat like this, only used of a person of a different character; where a certain Jew, observing another called by some of his neighbours Rabbi, thus expressed himself;
"If this be a Rabbi, , "let there not be many such as he in Israel".''
And it is said (n) of Nadab and Abihu,
"that two such were not found , "as they in Israel".''When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Matthew 8:10. Οὐδὲ ἐν τ. Ἰσρ.] not even among Israelites, the people of God, who are in possession of τὰς περὶ ἐμοῦ μαρτυρίας τῶν γραφῶν (Euth. Zigabenus). So the centurion was not a proselyte of righteousness; comp. Matthew 8:11 f., where Jews and Gentiles are contrasted with each other. And yet in him faith and humility were found inseparably united as by nature they ought to be, and that more than in the case of the ordinary native Jew. With this unfavourable testimony against Israel, comp. the history of the woman of Canaan, Matthew 15:22 ff.Matthew 8:10. In Matthew 8:13 we are told that Jesus did not disappoint the centurion’s expectation. But the interest of the cure is eclipsed for the evangelist by the interest of the Healer’s admiration, certainly a remarkable instance of a noteworthy characteristic of Jesus: His delight in signal manifestations of faith. Faith, His great watchword, as it was St. Paul’s. This value set on faith was not a mere idiosyncrasy, but the result of insight into its nobleness and spiritual virtue.—καὶ εἶπε: Christ did not conceal His admiration; or His sadness when He reflected that such faith as this Gentile had shown was a rare thing in Israel.—Ἀμὴν: He speaks solemnly, not without emotion.—παρʼ οὐδενὶ: this is more significant than the reading of T. R., assimilated to Luke 7:9. The οὐδὲ implies that Israel was the home of faith, and conveys the meaning not even there. But παρʼ οὐδενὶ means not even in a single instance, and implies that faith in notable degree is at a discount among the elect people. Such a sentiment at so early a period is noteworthy as showing how far Jesus was from cherishing extravagant hopes of setting up a theocratic kingdom of righteousness and godliness in Israel.Matthew 8:10. Ἐθαύμασε, wondered) Faith and unbelief were both the objects of Christ’s wonder; see Mark 6:6. Our Lord praises His friends warmly, where there is an opportunity for so doing. See ch. Matthew 11:7, Matthew 15:28, Matthew 25:35, Matthew 26:10; Luke 7:44; Luke 21:3.—ἐν τῷ Ἰσραὴλ, in Israel) sc. the people of Israel. Neither the centurion nor the woman of Canaan were of Israel; but with regard to the latter, our Lord may seem to have given a higher testimony, because she came openly from the coasts of the Gentiles, whereas the former had dwelt in Israel: and the centurion himself anticipated that objection (id occupavit), when he declared himself to be unworthy, and interposed the elders of the Jews between himself and our Lord.—τοσαύτην, so great) especially as the centurion had had much less intercourse with our Lord [than His brethren according to the flesh]. His faith was an example and earnest of the faith by which the Gentiles would surpass the Jews.—πίστιν, faith) From this first mention of faith in the New Testament, we may gather that faith (as well as unbelief) is in both the understanding and the will, being the result of deliberation and free choice. See the concordances on the word πειθω. Of all the virtues evinced by those who came to the Lord, He is wont to praise faith alone. See ch. Matthew 15:28; Luke 7:50.—ΟὐΔῈ—ΕὒΡΟΝ, I have not found) though I have come to seek it.
 Deliberation being the province of the Understanding; Free Choice, the offspring of the Will.—(I. B.)
 πείθω, to persuade, etc., the verb from which πίστις, faith is derived.—(I. B.)
 In proportion to the greatness of humility, is the greatness of faith.—See Matthew 8:8, and Luke 17:5-10.—V. g.Verse 10. - When (Revised Version, add when) Jesus heard it, he marvelled. Contrast "and he marvelled because of their unbelief" (Mark 6:6). We read in John 2:24, 25, "But Jesus did not trust himself unto them, for that he knew all men, and because he needed not that any one should bear witness concerning man; for he himself knew what was in man." Yet here our Lord marvels at the character of the centurion. How can we reconcile these two statements? As yet not fully, for the question takes us to the centre of our Lord's personality. But we must remember:
(1) That Augustine's solution - Christ did not so much actually wonder, as commend to us that which was worthy of our admiration - "brings an unreality into parts of our Lord's conduct, as though he did some things for show and the effect which they would have on others, instead of all his actions having their deepest root in his own nature, being the truthful exponents of his own inmost being" (Trench).
(2) That St. John was referring, as it seems, to persons with whom our Lord was brought into contact, while here the centurion is probably absent (vide supra). Our Lord's powers of perception (ἐγίνωσκεν, John) have here had no opportunity of action.
(3) That, in any case, even our Lord's mental powers did not act in any unnatural method. In his grasping the true character of each man's mind, the same processes (however rapid in his case) must have taken place as take place in men generally, and among these processes is wonder at some fresh trait.
(4) That unless we are prepared to accept a subtle Apollinarianism, we must suppose that Christ came to know human hearts by his human rather than by his Divine powers. This, of course, will not exclude his receiving special communications in the Holy Spirit, by whose agency we may suppose that he "saw Nathanael (John 1:48). and said to them that followed. The multitudes (ver. 1). Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. So also the Revised Version (similarly Luke), but Revised Version margin and Westcott and Hort read, With no man in Israel have I found so great faith," in which there is more distinct reference to the individuals whom he had actually met. A Gentile surpassed them all. Notice that the centurion is put above the apostles; and rightly, especially if even Peter had not as yet thought of the cure of his mother-in-law (ver. 14, note). Yet the centurion was not called to apostleship. Found. "Quae-rens, cum veni" (Bengel).
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