Matthew Poole's Commentary
Then came together unto him the Pharisees, and certain of the scribes, which came from Jerusalem.Mark 7:1-13 The Pharisees finding fault with his disciples for
eating with unwashen hands, Christ reproveth them of
hypocrisy, and of making void the commandments of God
by the traditions of men.
Mark 7:14-23 He teacheth that a man is defiled, not by that which
entereth in, but by that which cometh out of him.
Mark 7:24-30 He healeth the daughter of a Syrophenician woman,
Mark 7:31-37 and a man that was deaf and had an impediment in his speech.
Ver. 1-13. See Poole on "Matthew 15:1", and following verses to Matthew 15:9. By the notion of traditions, our Saviour understandeth not such things as were delivered to them by God in his law, but such things as were delivered to them by the elders, that is, their rulers in the church in the former times; for, Mark 7:9, he opposeth traditions to God’s commandments, and said the latter were neglected by their zeal for the former: to give countenance to which traditions, as the papists would impose upon us to believe, that Christ communicated some things to his apostles, and they to the primitive churches, by word of mouth, which have been so transmitted from age to age; so the Jews pretended that God communicated his will in some things to Moses, which Moses did not publish to the people. And as the former pretend a power by Christ left to the church to determine rituals; so the Pharisees (their true predecessors) pretended a suchlike power. Amongst others, besides the divers washings mentioned by the apostle, Hebrews 9:10, amongst the carnal ordinances, imposed only until the time of reformation, they had invented many other washings, as sepimenta legis, hedges to the Divine law. They washed their hands often, when they came from market, or before they did eat, not for decency and neatness, but out of religion, lest they should have been defiled by touching any heathens, or any polluted things; and not their hands only, but their pots and cups, their beds and tables, and brazen vessels; as indeed there is no stop, when once men have passed the hedge of the Divine institution, of which popery is a plentiful instance, where it is hard to discern an ordinance of God in the rubbish of their superstitious traditions. And it is very observable, that superstitious men are always more fond of, and zealous for, the traditions of men in their worship, than keeping the commandments of God. It is with the papists more heinous to violate Lent than to violate the sabbath; for a priest to marry than to commit whoredom. This zeal in them ordinarily produces a neglect, or slight esteem, of the plain commandments of God. So it did in the Pharisees, Mark 7:9; upon which our Saviour calleth them hypocrites, Mark 7:6, and telleth them this worshipping of God was vain, sinful, and idle, and impertinent; there was in it a derogating from the authority of God, and arrogating of an undue authority to themselves, by their commands making those things necessary which are not so; and, as commonly it happeneth, when human inventions are over urged and multiplied, some are urged destructive of the Divine law, so it was with those Pharisees; so they had done as to the fifth commandment, of which we have spoken plentifully: See Poole "Matthew 15:4", and following verses to Matthew 15:6. Our Saviour goeth on, showing their ignorance and blindness, in imagining that any person could be defiled by eating with unwashen hands.
And when they saw some of his disciples eat bread with defiled, that is to say, with unwashen, hands, they found fault.See Poole on "Mark 7:1"
For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders.See Poole on "Mark 7:1"
And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups, and pots, brasen vessels, and of tables.See Poole on "Mark 7:1"
Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands?See Poole on "Mark 7:1"
He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.See Poole on "Mark 7:6"
Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.See Poole on "Mark 7:1"
For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do.See Poole on "Mark 7:1"
And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.See Poole on "Mark 7:1"
For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death:See Poole on "Mark 7:1"
But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free.See Poole on "Mark 7:11"
And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother;See Poole on "Mark 7:1"
Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.See Poole on "Mark 1:13"
And when he had called all the people unto him, he said unto them, Hearken unto me every one of you, and understand:Our Saviour’s calling all the people unto him before he spake what next followeth, and his prefacing that discourse with, Hearken every one of you, and understand, lets us know that what he was about to say was a point of great moment, well worth their learning and observation.
There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man.Ver. 15,16. The addition of these words, If any man have ears to hear, let him hear, confirm what I observed before, that our Saviour looked upon what he said as a truth of very great moment, and withal as such a notion which carnal hearts and superstitious persons had no ears to hear. This great truth was, That a man in the sight of God (for of such defilement he alone speaketh), could be defiled by nothing but what came from within him. How easily would a popish doctor have answered this: Doth not disobedience to the church’s commands come from within us? Our Saviour therefore must be understood of such things as come from within in disobedience to the commands of God; such are those which he mentions, Mark 7:21,22; for all things that come from within do not defile the man. And it is true, that a disobedience to the commands of any power, whether civil or ecclesiastical, is a thing which cometh from within and defileth a soul, if it be a disobedience in such things which God hath given them a power to command, but if not the case is otherwise.
If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.See Poole on "Mark 7:15"
And when he was entered into the house from the people, his disciples asked him concerning the parable.That is, concerning this saying of his, which appeared to them dark, for a parable sometimes in Scripture signifieth no more, Psalm 49:4; yet one would think that our Saviour’s saying was plain enough. But custom is a great tyrant. The prejudice they had received from their superstitious teachers blinded them, and locked up their souls from receiving true and spiritual instructions. We see the same thing every day. What a heinous thing do the blind papists think it is to eat flesh in Lent, or on one of their fish days! Never considering by what law of God any men are restrained in such things. Our Saviour in the next words checks their blindness (see Mark 7:18-23).
And he saith unto them, Are ye so without understanding also? Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, it cannot defile him;Ver. 18-23. Christ checks his disciples for understanding things no better. Ignorance is more excusable in those who are strangers to God and Christ than in those that have relation to him. In our Saviour’s enumeration of those things which come out of the heart, several things are reckoned up which are the overt actions of the tongue, eye, hands; but our Saviour saith all these flow from the heart, for the actions of the outward man are but the imperate actions of the will, and things past the imaginations and understanding, before they come at the will, to be chosen or rejected. Here are but some sins reckoned instead of many, for it is true of all our evil actions, that they are first hatched in the heart, and are first entertained in our thoughts, in our understandings, then chosen by our wills, and then the bodily members are commanded by the soul to the execution of them. Mark reckoneth more than Matthew, but in both the enumerations are imperfect, and some sins are named instead of all. Nothing but sin defileth the man. Sin hath its first rise in the heart, and floweth from thence.
See Poole on "Matthew 15:18", and following verses to Matthew 15:20.
Because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats?See Poole on "Mark 7:18"
And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man.See Poole on "Mark 1:19"
For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,See Poole on "Mark 7:19"
Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness:See Poole on "Mark 7:22"
All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.See Poole on "Mark 7:19"
And from thence he arose, and went into the borders of Tyre and Sidon, and entered into an house, and would have no man know it: but he could not be hid.Ver. 24-30. Matthew records this history with several considerable additions; See Poole on "Matthew 15:21", and following verses to Matthew 15:28, where we have largely opened it.
For a certain woman, whose young daughter had an unclean spirit, heard of him, and came and fell at his feet:See Poole on "Mark 7:24"
The woman was a Greek, a Syrophenician by nation; and she besought him that he would cast forth the devil out of her daughter.See Poole on "Mark 7:24"
But Jesus said unto her, Let the children first be filled: for it is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it unto the dogs.See Poole on "Mark 1:24"
And she answered and said unto him, Yes, Lord: yet the dogs under the table eat of the children's crumbs.See Poole on "Mark 7:24"
And he said unto her, For this saying go thy way; the devil is gone out of thy daughter.See Poole on "Mark 7:24"
And when she was come to her house, she found the devil gone out, and her daughter laid upon the bed.See Poole on "Mark 7:24"
And again, departing from the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, he came unto the sea of Galilee, through the midst of the coasts of Decapolis.Ver. 31-37. This history is recorded by Mark only.
And again, departing from the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. We heard, Mark 7:24, of his going into those coasts; some think that our Saviour did not go out of the Jewish country, though he went to
the coasts of Tire and Sidon, which were pagan countries.
He came unto the sea of Galilee, through the midst of the coasts of Decapolis. That Decapolis was a union of ten cities so called, is plain by the name; but what those cities were, and whether they lay on the same side of Jordan that Galilee did, or on the other side of Jordan, is disputed; most think they lay on the Galilean side.
One that was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech: some think that he was dumb, but the word signifies one that spake with difficulty, so as it is likely his deafness was not natural; (for all naturally deaf, are also dumb; we learning to speak by hearing); besides that it is said after the cure, that
he spake plain: it was probably an accidental deafness happening to him after that he could speak. Their beseeching Christ to put his hand upon him, proceeded from their observation of him very often to use that rite in his healing sick persons.
And he took him aside from the multitude, not seeking his own glory and ostentation,
and put his fingers into his ears, and he spit, and touched his tongue. All these things were ex abundanti, not necessary actions, or naturally efficacious for his cure; but our Lord sometimes used no signs or rites, sometimes these, sometimes others, as it pleased him.
And looking up to heaven, he sighed, pitying the condition of human nature, subject to so many miseries, defects, and infirmities, and saith,
Ephphatha, that is, Be opened. By the word of his power he made the world, and by the word of his power he upholds it, and by the same word of his power he restoreth any lapsed or decayed part of it. He speaks, and it is done.
And straightway his ears were opened: nature obeyeth the God of nature. Concerning his charge of them not to publish it, and their disobedience to it, I have had occasion once and again to speak, and must confess I can neither satisfy myself in the reason from my own thoughts, nor from what I read in others. This miracle hath no other effect on the people than astonishment, and confession that what he did was well done; which was the common effect of Christ’s preaching and miracles upon the most.
And they bring unto him one that was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech; and they beseech him to put his hand upon him.See Poole on "Mark 7:31"
And he took him aside from the multitude, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spit, and touched his tongue;See Poole on "Mark 7:31"
And looking up to heaven, he sighed, and saith unto him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened.See Poole on "Mark 7:34"
And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain.See Poole on "Mark 7:31"
And he charged them that they should tell no man: but the more he charged them, so much the more a great deal they published it;See Poole on "Mark 7:31"
And were beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all things well: he maketh both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak.See Poole on "Mark 7:31"