At that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the fame of Jesus,
Verses 1-36. - CHRIST'S POWER TO SUPPLY AND PROTECT AND HEAL, PREFACED BY A STATEMENT OF HEROD'S RELATION TO HIM. Verses 1-12. - Herod's opinion of Jesus, and a parenthetical account of his murder of John the Baptist. Parallel passages: Mark 6:14-29; Luke 9:7-9; Luke 3:19, 20. Verse 1. - At that time; season (Revised Version); Matthew 11:25, note. Herod the tetrarch; i.e. Antipas, youngest son of Herod the Great, and by one of his father's wills named his successor on the throne, but by the last will appointed only tetrarch of Galilee and Peraea. Though not legally king, he sometimes received the title by courtesy (ver. 9; Mark 6:14; cf. Matthew 2:1, note). "In point of character, Antipas was a genuine son of old Herod - sly, ambitious, and luxurious, only not so able as his father." He was deposed by Caligula, A.D. 39, when, at the instance of Herodias, he had gone to Rome to try to obtain the same title of king that had been granted to her brother Agrippa I. (Schurer, I. 2:18, 36). Heard of the fame - heard the report (Revised Version); Matthew 4:24, note - of Jesus.
And said unto his servants, This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead; and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him.
Verse 2. - And said unto his servants. According to Luke, the following assertion was brought forward by some, but was, it would seem, summarily rejected by Herod (Luke 9:7, 9); according to Mark (ἔλεγον, Westcott and Hort, text) it was common talk, and agreed to by Herod (Mark 6:14, 16). If a reconciliation of so unimportant a verbal disagreement be sought for, it may perhaps lie in Luke representing Herod's first exclamation, and Matthew, with Mark, his settled belief. Clearly Herod did not originate it, as the summary account in our Gospel would lead us to suppose. This is John the Baptist (Matthew 3:1 and Matthew 4:12, notes). (For this opinion about our Lord, compare, besides the parallel passages referred to in the last note, also Matthew 16:14.) He (αὐτός, Matthew 1:21, note) is risen from the dead. The other dead still lie in Hades (ἀπὸ τῶν νεκρῶν). Plumptre, on Mark, adduces a curious passage from Persius, 5:180-188, which he thinks is based on a story that when Herod celebrated another of his birthdays (cf. ver. 6) in Rome, in A.D. , he was terrified by a Banquo-like appearance of the murdered prophet. The superstition that already suggested to Herod the resurrection of John might well act more strongly on the anniversary of the murder, and after he had connived at the death of the One who, by his miracles, showed that he possessed greater power than John. And therefore; "because he is no ordinary man, but one risen from the dead" (Meyer). Mighty works do show forth themselves in him (αἱ δυνάμεις ἐνεργοῦσιν ἐν αἰ τῷ) do these powers work in him (Revised Version). "These" (αἱ, the article of reference), i.e. these which are spoken of in the report (ver. 1). Αἱ δυνάμεις may be
(1) specifically miracles (cf. Matthew 13:58), in which case they are regarded as potentially active in John before their completion in history; or
(2) the powers of working miracles, as perhaps in 1 Corinthians 12:28. Observe that this passage confirms the statement of John 10:41, that John performed no miracle. Observe that it is also an indirect witness to the fact of our Lord performing miracles. For Herod's utterance is not such as a forger would have imagined.
For Herod had laid hold on John, and bound him, and put him in prison for Herodias' sake, his brother Philip's wife.
Verse 3. - For Herod had laid hold on John, and bound him. Although had simplifies the meaning to the English reader, as definitely marking what must have been the case, that John's imprisonment began some time before, yet in the Greek only the aorist is used to commence a vivid narrative. And put him in prison; "put him away in prison (ἐν φυλακῇ ἀπέθετο)." So of Micaiah by Ahab (2 Chronicles 18:26, LXX., but not Lucian's text). Probably here in allusion to the distance of Machaerus from Herod's usual residence at Tiberius. Possibly, also, a reference to John being safer there from the designs of Herodias (Mark 6:19, 20). Anyhow, notice the stages in Herod's action - capture, binding, imprisonment in a place where he was quite out of the way. For Herodias' sake. John was imprisoned, according to the New Testament,
(1) as a punishment for his rebuke of Herod;
(2) to protect him from Herodias' vengeance. (On the statement by Josephus, that it was for political reasons, see Matthew 3:1, note.) His brother Philip's wife. According to Josephus ('Ant.,' 18:05. 4), the first husband of Herodias was "Herod," son of Herod the Great by Mariamne the high priest's daughter, and the daughter of Herodias, Salome, married Philip the tetrarch, who was also the son of Herod the Great by Cleopatra of Jerusalem. Hence many critics (e.g. Ewald; Schurer, I. 2:22) suppose the account in Matthew and Mark to be mistaken, and due to a confusion of Herodias with her daughter. But, although it is curious that two sons of Herod the Great should have been called Philip, yet, in view of their being by different mothers, it cannot be pronounced impossible ("Antipas" and "Antipater" are not precisely identical). Besides, Herod the son of Mariamne would probably have had some other name than that of his father alone. It is noticeable that, in the same context, Josephus speaks also of Antipas by the name Herod only.
For John said unto him, It is not lawful for thee to have her.
Verse 4. - For John said unto him, It is not lawful (οὐκ ἔξεστιν, Matthew 12:2) for thee to have her. Herod Philip being still alive. Bengel remarks, "Causas matrimoniales non possunt plane abdicare theologi." Was he thinking of Luther's unfortunate advice to Philip of Hesse?
And when he would have put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet.
Verse 5. - And when he would have put him to death, he feared the multitude (cf. Luke 20:6). Mark has, "And Herodias set herself against him, and would have put him to death; and she could not; for Herod feared John." The more detailed account in Mark is doubtless the more exact. Perhaps the facts of the case were that, in the first heat of his resentment, Herod wished to kill John, but feared the anger of the people, and that afterwards, when he him in his power and Herodias still urged his death, Herod had himself learned to respect him. Observe
(1) that it is quite impossible to suppose that either evangelist had the words of the other in front of him. The difference does not consist merely of addition or explanation;
(2) that these are exactly the kind of verbal coincidences which might be expected to be found in two oral traditions starting from a common basis. For they counted him as a prophet (ὡς προφήτην αὐτὸν εϊχον); so Matthew 21:26 (cf. Matthew 21:46; Mark 11:32; Philippians 2:29).
But when Herod's birthday was kept, the daughter of Herodias danced before them, and pleased Herod.
Verse 6. - But when Herod's birthday was kept; came (Revised Version); γενεσίοις δὲ γενομένοις τοῦ Ἡρῴδου, dative of time (Winer, § 31:9), with the addition of a participle. Birthday. So "Pharaoh's birthday" (Genesis 40:20, ἡμέρα γενέσεως). Thayer's Grimm refers to "Alciphr. Epp. 3, 18, and 55; Dio Cass., 47, 18, etc.," for γενέσια being used in the same sense. The Talmudic גיניסיא (see Levy, s.v.) apparently represents the same word, and (preceded by יום) has the same meaning (cf. Schurer, I. 2:27). Possibly Jews found γενέσια an easier word to pronounce than the more classical γενέσλια. The daughter of Herodias; i.e. Salome, daughter of Herod Philip and Herodias; she afterwards married her half uncle, Philip the tetrarch (ver. 3, note). She could not now be less than seventeen or eighteen years old (cf. Gutschmid, in Schurer, I. 2:28), so, in the East, could only just be still called a κοράσιον (ver. 11). Mark's text (like the Greek of Codex Bezae here) speaks of her as though she herself was called Herodias, and was the daughter of Antipas and Herodias; but the issue of this union could not then have been more than two years old (Schurer, loc. cit.). Besides, the trait mentioned by Mark (Mark 6:25), that she came back with haste to the king, asking for the head of the Baptist, implies that she was more than a child. Rendel Harris ('Texts and Studies,' II. 1. p. 68) suggests that the confusion is due to an early Latinization of the Greek from an ambiguous ejus. Danced. Probably with the same kind of voluptuous dance as that of the Egyptian almd described by Warburton ('Crescent and Cross,' chap. 14.). But that a member of the royal family should so dance before a company must have been almost unheard cf. Before them; in the midst (Revised Version). Matthew only. Such a dance with men sitting round would be specially abhorrent to the Jewish mind. And pleased Herod. And of course, as St. Mark adds, "them that sat with him" (cf. ver. 9).
Whereupon he promised with an oath to give her whatsoever she would ask.
Verse 7. - Whereupon he promised with an oath to give her whatsoever she would ask.
And she, being before instructed of her mother, said, Give me here John Baptist's head in a charger.
Verse 8. - And she, being before instructed; being put forward (Revised Version); προβιβασθεῖσα (Acts 19:33, Received Text; Deuteronomy 6:7, LXX.). The word implies that the girl herself would not have thought of it, and perhaps that she had at first some little reluctance. But if so, it was soon over, for she came back "in haste" (Mark). Of her mother. St. Mark explains that she left the room to ask her mother. Said, Give me. This is the gift I want. Here. And evidently at once. The word excludes the possibility of the feast being in Tiberias, if John was slain at Machaerus, as the passage in Josephus states (cf. Matthew 3:1, note). There is no very great difficulty in supposing the chief men of Galilee, etc. (Mark), to have gone as far as Machaerus to pay their respects to Herod and to partake of the feast, but whether the statement in Josephus is accurate, and how, if it be so, it is to be reconciled with the preceding statement that Machaerus belonged to Aretas, are questions not easily answered (see Schurer, I. 2:26). John Baptist's head in a charger; in a charger the head of John the Baptist (Revised Version). She defines here still more closely (ῶδε ἐπὶ πίνακι), and then states her request. On the form of her demand for John's death, Chrysostom says that she wished to see his tongue lying there silent, for she did not merely long to be freed from his reproaches, but to insult and jeer him (ἐπιβῆναι καὶ ἐπιτωθάσαι κειμένᾳ). Charger. A wooden trencher.
And the king was sorry: nevertheless for the oath's sake, and them which sat with him at meat, he commanded it to be given her.
Verse 9. - And the king was sorry: nevertheless for the oath's sake; better, and though the king was grieved, yet for the sake of his oaths (καὶ λυπηθεὶς ὁ βασιλεὺς διὰ τὺος ὅρκους κ.τ.λ.). That he was grieved at John's death is a verbal contradiction to ver. 5, but after some weeks' or months' delay psychologically quite possible (cf. note there). Kubel attributes the change to his conscience recoiling when his wish had a sudden chance of being accomplished; or it may be that he still fearest the multitude (cf. ver. 5), and felt anxious lest he should bring about some political disturbance. Oaths; for in making the promise of ver. 7 he would certainly take more than one. And them which sat with him at meat. Had he uttered the promise and the oaths in private, it would have been different, but now there were so many witnesses. Observe that these said nothing to stop him. They were no friends of the enthusiast who was now a prisoner. He commanded it to be given her.
And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison.
Verses 10, 11. - And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison, and his head was brought in a charger (ver. 8, note), and given (the fourth time that the word "give" has come in five verses; the head of the herald of the kingdom becomes a royal gift) to the damsel - (τῷ κορασίῳ, ver. 6, note) - and she brought it to her mother. But a few minutes after she had first spoken her request (ver. 8, note).
And his head was brought in a charger, and given to the damsel: and she brought it to her mother.
And his disciples came, and took up the body, and buried it, and went and told Jesus.
Verse 12. - And his disciples came. "And when his disciples heard thereof, they came" (Mark). Perhaps they were not permitted to be so much with him as at an earlier period in his imprisonment (Matthew 11:2). But if the murder was in the evening, as would appear probable from the circumstances of it, they would naturally not be in the castle at the time. And took up the body; the corpse (Revised Version, τὸ πτῶμα). And buried it; him, (Revised Version, αὐτόν). It is right in Mark, but St. Matthew has preserved the more popular form of expression. And (Revised Version adds they) went and told Jesus. Matthew only. In Mark (Mark 6:30; cf. also Luke 9:10) this expression dearly belongs to the next paragraph, and is predicated of the twelve apostles on their return from their mission (Mark 6:7-12; our Matthew 10:5). It looks as though some confusion had arisen in the source before St. Matthew used it. As the words stand here they show the kindly feelings which both John and his disciples felt towards our Lord
When Jesus heard of it, he departed thence by ship into a desert place apart: and when the people had heard thereof, they followed him on foot out of the cities.
Verses 13-21. - The feeding of the five thousand. Parallel passages: Mark 6:30-44; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:1-13. The miracle was deemed so characteristic of our Lord's work, in his care for men and his power to sustain them, and more especially in its being a parable of his readiness to supply spiritual food, that it was recorded not only by each of the three evangelists who used the framework, but also by the one who depended entirely upon his own materials. But though St. John's account of it is on the whole independent, yet even this has expressions which are certainly due to the influence of the source used by the synoptists, or, less probably, of one or other of our present Gospels. The evangelist relates
(1) the occasion of the miracle (vers. 13, 140;
(2) the preparation of the disciples (vers. 15-18);
(3) the miracle itself (vers. 19, 20);
(4) a summary statement of the numbers fed (ver. 21). Verse 13. - When Jesus heard of it (cf. ver. 12b, note), he departed. (For the form of the sentence, see Matthew 4:12; Matthew 12:15.) Thence by ship; in a boat (Revised Version); Matthew 8:23. Into a desert place apart. Defined in John 6:3 as "the mountain;" in Luke 9:10 as "a city called Bethsaida." The spot appears to have been in part of the plain El-Batiha, which is at the northcast corner of the Sea of Galilee on the Gaulonitis side of the Jordan, and in which stood Bethsaida-Julias. Mark 6:45 implies that there was a second Bethsaida on the western side of the lake, which, though not alluded to by Josephus, is expressly spoken of in John 12:21, and is probably referred to in all the other passages of the New Testament where the name Bethsaida occurs. And when the people (the multitudes, Revised Version) had heard thereof, they followed him on foot out of the cities. The fact that it was near a feast time (John 6:4, the Passover, if the text be right; and cf. infra, ver. 19, note) perhaps accounts for the multitudes being so large. Some at least would be on their way up to Jerusalem.
And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick.
Verse 14. - The first half of this verse is found verbally in Mark (Mark 6:34); comp. also Matthew 9:36, note. And Jesus went forth; came forth (Revised Version); i.e. from the more retired place where he had been conversing with his disciples (cf. Mark and Luke). And saw a great multitude. "The multitudes" of ver. 13 have now become one body. And was moved with compassion toward them; and he had compassion on them (Revised Version). The true reading, ἐπ αὐτοῖς (contrast Mark and Matthew 15:32), regards the Lord's pity at, so to say, a later stage than the common reading, ἐπ αὐτούς. It was not only directed towards them, but actually resting on them. And he healed (ἐθεράπευσεν, Matthew 4:23, note) their sick (τοὺς ἀῥῤώστους αὐτῶν). Αῥῤωστος here only in Matthew, elsewhere in the New Testament in Mark 6:5, 13 [16:18]; 1 Corinthians 11:30. As compared with ἀσθενής, it "seems to point to diseases predominantly marked by loss of bodily power ('diuturno languore teneri,' Calvin), while the more common ἀσθενής is simply used to denote sickness generally" (Bishop Ellicott, on 1 Corinthians, loc. cit.). But in our passage it is used without any such limitation (cf. Luke, "And he healed them that had need of healing"). Mark and John do not speak of miracles of healing on this occasion.
And when it was evening, his disciples came to him, saying, This is a desert place, and the time is now past; send the multitude away, that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves victuals.
Verse 15. - And when it was evening. But not as late as the "evening" of ver. 23. (For a discussion upon the technical division of two "evenings," see Gesenius, 'Thesaurus,' p. 1064.) It appears that the first evening was from the ninth to the twelfth hour (our 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the equinoxes), and the second evening was for a short time, perhaps forty minutes, after sunset (cf. Matthew 8:16, note). His (the, Revised Version) disciples came to him, saying. St. John alone has recorded our Lord's previous conversation with Philip (John 6:5-7). This is a desert place; the place is desert (Revised Version), which better marks the parallelism with the next clause. And the time is now (already, Revised Version) past (ἡ ὥρα ἤδη παρῆλθεν); i.e. probably the hour at which he was accustomed to dismiss his audience. For he would often have to consider their wish to get home before nightfall. Send the multitude away; the multitudes (Revised Version); for now again they are regarded separately as having to go in different directions. That they may go (go away) into the villages, and buy themselves victuals; food (Revised Version). One at least of the disciples would have a keen eye for the amount of the contents of the common purse.
But Jesus said unto them, They need not depart; give ye them to eat.
Verse 16. - But Jesus said unto them, They need not depart; they have no need to go away (Revised Version). Matthew only. The Lord takes up the expression. There is no need for them to move from this place, desert though it is. Give ye them to eat. Ye; emphatic, he throws upon his disciples the duty of feeding them, and, strange though the command seemed to them (cf. 2 Kings 4:43), they carried it out.
And they say unto him, We have here but five loaves, and two fishes.
Verse 17. - And they say unto him, We have here (ῶδε) but five loaves (Matthew 4:3, note), and two fishes (Matthew 7:9, note). St. Matthew omits the question, "Shall we go and buy?" etc., which comes in Mark and Luke, and essentially in John (ver. 5).
He said, Bring them hither to me.
Verse 18. - Matthew only. He said, Bring them hither to me (φέρετε μοι ῶδε αὐτούς). This gives the sense, but still more is implied. He takes up their ῶδε. "Yes," he says, "it is possible to feed them where we are, and especially where I am. For there is not the poverty of supply here that you think there is." Observe that for the disciples to bring them "here" was in itself an act of faith.
And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.
Verse 19. - And he commanded the multitude; the multitudes (Revised Version). Here also the plural (ver. 15), because they are thought of as grouped over the ground. To sit down; i.e. to recline as at a meal (ἀνακλιθῆναι). On the grass (ἐπὶ τοῦ χ´ρτου). The addition of "green" (χλωρός) in Mark suits the time of the Passover (ver. 13, note), but hardly of any later feast, for the grass would have been dried up. And took the five loaves, and the two fishes. He used all the means there were. And looking up to heaven. So also Mark 7:34; John 17:1. He blessed. He may well have used the blessing that is still used over bread ("Blessed art thou, Jehovah our God, King of the world, that causest bread to come forth from the earth"); for this can be apparently traced to the second or third century A.D., and is probably much older still (cf. Edersheim, 'Life,' 1:684; Zunz, 'Gottesdienstliche Vortrage,' p. 371, edit. 1832). (For the habit of saying grace before meals, cf. Matthew 15:36; Matthew 26:26; Romans 14:6; 1 Corinthians 10:30; 1 Timothy 4:5; see also 1 Samuel 9:13.) And brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude. That the people received the bread at the hands of the disciples is not mentioned by St. John. Perhaps because his chapter dwells so much on the need of direct contact with Christ. But Christ's work through his agents, both before and after his time on earth, is an important point with the synoptists.
And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full.
Verse 20. - And they did all eat, and were filled (ἐχορτάσθησαν, Matthew 5:6, note). And they. Undefined, but seen from Matthew 16:9; John 6:12, to have been the disciples. Took up of the fragments that remained; that which remained over of the broken pieces (Revised Version); i.e. of the pieces broken by our Lord for distribution (ver. 19). Twelve baskets full. The disciples personally lost nothing by the miracle (ver. 15, note), the provision basket that each always carried was now replenished. Baskets; "cofyns" (Wickliffe); κοφίνους (cf. Luke 9:17, note; and the Talmudic saying, "He that has bread in his basket is not like him that has not bread in his basket," Talm. Bab., 'Yoma,' 74b).
And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside women and children.
Verse 21. - And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside women and children. Only Matthew mentions the presence of other than men. We may assume that no great number of women and children were there; and this, considering the distance that most had been obliged to go (ver. 13), is what we should expect. "Observe here the diminutive παιδίων, little children, whom their mothers either carried in their arms or led by the hand" (Meyer).
And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away.
Verses 22-33. - Christ's power over the elements. He walks on the water and stays the storm. St. Peter's attempt to walk on the water is successful so long as he exercises faith on Christ. Jesus receives homage as Messiah. Parallel passages: Mark 6:45-52; John 6:15-21. It is strange that the incident of St. Peter is recorded in Matthew only, and not in Mark, for it serves to emphasize what is a leading thought of the preceding narrative, even in Mark, viz. the power that believers receive by virtue of faith on Christ (vers. 16, 19). With Christ in the boat, difficulties cease (ver. 32); they that believe on him can triumph as he did (vers. 28-31; cf. the thought of John 14:19, end). For St. John's purpose the mention of St. Peter was not necessary; since, by way of introduction to the following discourse, be desired rather to familiarize his readers with the idea of Christ's body being triumphant over earthly limitations (cf. ver. 19, note). Verse 22. - And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples. It was not their wish to leave him, especially when the multitudes seemed likely to elect him king (John 6:15). But from the temptation to side with the multitudes our Lord desired now to shield them. Separation and physical work (ver. 24) would calm their excitement, and the object lesson that their Master already ruled over wind and sea would lead them to more perfect trust in his methods. Another reason for his sending them forward may have been that they should use the failing light; and yet another, that he himself desired time for prayer. To get into a ship; a boat (ἐμβῆναι εἰς πλοῖον); cf. Matthew 8:23 (the boat, Revised Version, reading εἰς τὸ πλοῖον). And to go before him (προάγειν αὐτόν: Matthew 2:9; Matthew 21:9). For he would follow. He fulfilled his promise much more literally than they anticipated. Unto the other side. "Unto Bethsaida" (Mark); "unto Capernaum" (John). Probably they landed at the western Bethsaida (ver. 13, note), in Gennesaret (ver. 34), and went on to Capernaum, where our Lord again addressed the people (John 6:24-26). While he sent - till he should send (Revised Version); ἕως οῦ ἀπολύσῃ, Matthew 13:33 - the multitudes away. Why should this take up time? Why did he not dismiss them then and there? Possibly they were too eager to carry out their own plans on his behalf to attend to only one expression of his wish.
And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.
Verse 23. - And when he had sent the multitudes away. Matthew speaks merely of the dismissal as such (ἀπολύσας τοὺς ὄχλους); Mark refers to his parting words (ἀποταξάμενος αὐτοῖς, i.e. probably to the multitude). He went up into a mountain - the mountain (Revised Version); Matthew 5:1, note - apart. Κατ ἰδίαν is to be joined with the preceding, and not to the following words (cf. ver. 13; Matthew 17:19). And when the evening was come (ver. 15, note), he was there alone. For some eight hours, if it was spring or autumn (ver. 25).
But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.
Verse 24. - But the ship; boat (Revised Version); ver. 22. Was now; rather, already, when the following incident happened. In the midst of the sea. So also the text of the Revised Version (with practically Mark 6:47), but its margin, "was many furlongs distant from the land." Westcott and Hort prefer the latter, with Codex B and the Old Syriac. It somewhat resembles John 6:19. Tossed; distressed (Revised Version). For βασανιζόμενον suggests not physical motion, but pain and anguish, the idea being transferred in figure to the boat. In Mark it is applied more strictly to the disciples. With waves; by the waves (Revised Version). The agents of the torture (ὑπὸ τῶν κυμάτων). For the wind was contrary. Yet he came not at once, for he would teach us to bear troubles bravely (cf. Chrysostom).
And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.
Verse 25. - And in the fourth watch of the night. Therefore some nine hours after sunset (ver. 23, note). They had been battling for hours, and had only gone about three miles and a half (John 6:19). Jesus went; came (Revised Version); η΅λθε, not ἀπῆλθε, with Received Text. Unto them, walking on the sea (ἐπὶ τὴν θάλθασσαν); contrast ver. 26 (ἐπὶ τῆς θαλάσσης). Here there is more thought of motion (cf. ver. 29), but in the next verse the advance is almost forgotten, and the fact of Christ being on the water is all-important; "they saw him on the sea, walking."
And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.
Verse 26. - And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit - an apparition (Revised Version, φάντασμά ἐστιν) - and they cried out for fear.
But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.
Verse 27. - But straightway Jesus spake unto them (ἐλάλησεν, not ἔκραξεν). He was evidently near them. Saying, Be of good cheer (θαρσεῖτε, Matthew 9:2); it is I; be not afraid. Encouragement, self-manifestation, recall from present terror. But the absence of θαρσεῖτε in John 6:20 suggests that it is, perhaps, a duplicate rendering of the Aramaic for μὴ φοβεῖσθε. For the LXX. commonly translates "fear ye not" by θαρσεῖτε (e.g. Exodus 14:13; Exodus 20:20). One or two second-rate manuscripts omit θαρσεῖτε in Mark, but this may be only due to a reminiscence of John. It is also omitted in Tatian's 'Diatessaron' (edit. Hemphill).
And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.
Verses 28-31. - St. Peter's venture. Matthew only. Verse 28. - And; δέ, slightly adversative, because St. Peter's words were so contrary to what might have been expected. Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou (εἰ σὺ εῖ). No doubt is implied (Matthew 4:3, note). Bid me (κέλευσόν με); jube me (Vulgate). He will only come at Christ's command. In this lies the difference - and it is a decisive difference - from the second temptation (Matthew 4:6). Come unto thee on the water. Not "bid me walk on the water;" for he does not want to perform a miracle, but to come to Jesus. His request is not due to the hope of making a show, but to impulsive love. Observe, too, that he seems to have realized that the Lord would enable his followers to do as he himself did (cf. Chrysostom). On the water; the waters (Revised Version); rough though they were. Had we any ether account of this incident, it would be interesting to see if it contained these words. They read very like an explanatory addition by the narrator.
And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
Verse 29. - And he said, Come. Our Lord takes him at his word, and gives the command. It is not merely a permission. Observe that our Lord never blames him for having made the request. His venture of faith would have been altogether successful had his faith continued. And when Peter was come down out of the ship. The Revised Version has more simply, And Peter went down from the boat, and. He walked on the water. For the narrator was chiefly interested in his walking there (contrast ver. 28). To go to Jesus; rather, and came to Jesus (Westcott and Hort; cf. margin of Revised Version). The true text states what did, in fact, happen, notwithstanding Peter's lack of faith (cf. ver. 31).
But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
Verse 30. - But when he saw the wind boysterous (ἰσχυρόν is clearly a gloss, and therefore omitted by the Revised Version). He was afraid; and beginning to sink. The natural tendency to sink, which he had had all the time, was counteracted before by his faith, which enabled him to receive Christ's power. But now that his doubt made him incapable of receiving this, he sank (cf. Meyer). He cried (ἔκραξεν), saying, Lord, save me (Matthew 8:25). Aphraates ('Homilies,' vide Resch, 'Agrapha,' p. 380) quotes an apocryphal saying of our Lord's, "Doubt not; lest ye are engulfed in the world, as Simon; for he doubled, and began to sink in the sea."
And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?
Verse 31. - And immediately. Without any waste of time, just as in ver. 27. Jesus stretched forth his hand. So that St. Peter had come up to him (ver. 29). And caught him; and took hold of him (Revised Version, ἐπελάβετο αὐτοῦ: cf. Hebrews 2:16; Hebrews 8:9). And said; saith (Revised Version). The writer passes to more vivid narration. Unto him, O thou of little faith (o)ligo/piste); Matthew 6:30, note. But in Matthew 17:20 (Westcott and Hort) the substantive is used of faith in a more active sense. Wherefore (εἰς τί); "למה, literally rendered" (Dr. Guillemard). Didst thou doubt? (ἐδίστασας). In the New Testament, Matthew 28:17 only. Christ saves first, and rebukes afterwards. Perhaps the need for help was more immediate than in ch. 8:26, or possibly the fervency of St. Peter's love deserved gentler treatment.
And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased.
Verse 32. - And when they were come - gone up (Revised Version) - into the ship, the wind ceased. Apparently not before, so that Peter may still have walked a little further on the water in the midst of the storm, but upheld by the Lord's hand.
Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.
Verse 33. - Matthew only. Then - and (Revised Version, δέ) - they that were in the ship; boat (Revised Version). If there were others than the disciples in the boat, as is probable, these also would be included; but the disciples would naturally take the lead (cf. the notes on Matthew 8:23, 27). Came and. The Revised Version omits these two words, with the manuscripts. They are due to the analogy of Matthew 8:2; Matthew 9:18. Worshipped him (Matthew 4:9, note). In Matthew 8:27 we read of wonder; here, of homage. Saying, Of a truth (ἀληθῶς); cf. Matthew 5:18, s.v. "verily." The word seems to imply that the suggestion did not enter their minds now for the first time. Two had, perhaps, heard the words spoken at the baptism (Matthew 3:17), and most of them, if not all, the utterance by the demons in Matthew 8:29. Yet these utterances in reality far surpassed what they even nosy imagined (vide infra). Thou art the Son of God (Θεοῦ υἱὸς εϊ). Although the phrase is not of the definite form found in Matthew 26:63 and Matthew 16:16, where it is used with express reference to the Messiahship of Jesus (cf. for the intermediate form, Matthew 27:40 with 43), yet it is impossible to take it here as merely referring to a moral relation between Jesus and God. In Matthew 27:54 this might be sufficient (Luke has "righteous"); but here there is no question of coming up to a standard of moral uprightness, but rather of manifestation of power, and this is connected with Messiah. His authority over the elements leads to the homage of those who witness its exercise, and forces from them the expression that he is the promised Representative of God on earth (Psalm 2:7; cf. Matthew 2:15, note). Observe, however, that not even so is it a profession of faith in his absolute Divinity. (Kubel's note on this subject in Matthew 8:29 is very good.)
And when they were gone over, they came into the land of Gennesaret.
Verses 34-36. - On landing at Gennesaret numbers come to him and are healed. Parallel passage: Mark 6:53-56, which is fuller. Verse 34. - And when they were gone over - had crossed over (Revised Version); διαπεράσαντες Matthew 9:1 - they came into the land of Gennesaret - to the land, unto Gennesaret (Revised Version, with the true text). The plain El-Ruwer, part of the northwest side of the lake, and some three miles long by one broad, extending, roughly, from Chorazin (perhaps Khan Minyeh; but comp. Matthew 11:21, note) to Magdala. (For its fertility, see Josephus, 'Wars,' 3:10.8.)
And when the men of that place had knowledge of him, they sent out into all that country round about, and brought unto him all that were diseased;
Verse 35. - And when the men of that place had knowledge of him, they sent out into all that country round about (cf. Matthew 3:5). Matthew alone states definitely that this zeal was shown by the inhabitants of the Plain of Gennesaret. Mark's words (Mark 6:55) are vaguer. And brought unto him all that were diseased; sick (Revised Version); cf. Matthew 4:24; Matthew 8:16.
And besought him that they might only touch the hem of his garment: and as many as touched were made perfectly whole.
Verse 36. - And besought; and they besought (Revised Version); i.e. the sick, for probably the change of person takes place here and not at" that they might touch." Him that they might only touch the hem of his garment (Matthew 9:20, 21, notes): and as many as touched were made perfectly whole (διεσώθησαν); were made whole (Revised Version). For διά here is probably not intensive, but rather gives the thought of being brought out safe through the danger. In the LXX. διασώζεσθαι is a common rendering of נמלט, "escape."