When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him.
Verse 1-ch. 9:34 - MESSIAH'S WORK AS COMPLEMENTARY TO HIS TEACHING. We return in this section to matter which resembles that of Mark and Luke, and undoubtedly belongs to the Framework (vide Introduction). St. Matthew has given a lengthy summary of the teaching of the Christ, and he now supplements it by a summary of his daily work. He is not concerned with the chronological connexion of the incidents here narrated, for this is evidently to him a matter of but secondary importance. He only desires to bring out different aspects of the Lord's life. Thus he notices -
1. Christ's miracles of healing, and the secret of his ability to perform them (vers. 1-17).
2. The personal trials that Christ incurred in his work (ver. 18-Matthew 9:8).
3. The liberty of the gospel as shown by Christ's treatment of the outcast, and his answer to those who insisted on fasting (Matthew 9:9-17).
4. The completeness of his healing power (Matthew 9:18-34). Verses 1-17. - 1. Christ's miracles of healing, and the secret of his ability to perform them. Observe:
(1) The variety in the patients.
(a) One of the chosen people, who had lost all social and religious privileges;
(b) a Gentile, an outsider by birth;
(c) the near relation of a personal follower;
(2) The variety in the requests for his aid.
(a) The request by the sufferer;
(b) the request by another;
(c) apparently no request, yet the personal follower has Christ with him;
(d) the sufferers are brought to him. Verses 1-4. - Healing the leper. Parallel passages: Mark 1:40-45; Luke 5:12-16. Observe in this miracle
(1) the Lord's sympathy, running counter to popular prejudice (vide Edersheim, ' Life,' 1:495);
(2) his full acceptance of the Law (Matthew 5:17); cf. ver. 4, note. Verse 1. - Matthew only. When he was come down from the mountain (Matthew 5:1, note), great multitudes followed him, A transitional verse. It carries on the thought of the ὄχλοι in the last verse of the preceding chapter, and serves to introduce the following examples of sick folk; or, perhaps, it may be connected with the "great multitudes" (ὄχλοι πολλοί) of Matthew 4:25, coming, as the plural suggests (cf. also Matthew 12:23) from the various places there enumerated. If we must combine this verse with Luke 5:12, we must suppose our Lord to have descended the mountain, and to be passing through "one of the cities," coming (our ver. 5) afterwards to Capernaum, the "great multitudes" (cf. Luke 5:15)being drawn from the various cities through which he passed. The verse reminds us that the two sides of the Lord's life, preaching and work, were intimately connected. Men not only wondered at what they heard (Matthew 7:28, 29), they also followed him, and this led to occasions for the exercise of his practical activity. The result was that they wondered at his work (Matthew 9:33), as they wondered at his preaching.
And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.
Verse 2. - And, behold. In this case the unexpected (Matthew 1:20, note) was the near approach (προσελθών), the "worship," and the prayer of an outcast. There came a leper. Loathsome physically and typically. The other passages which speak of the healing of lepers by our Lord or the apostles are
(1) Matthew 10:8;
(2) Matthew 11:5; parallel passage, Luke 7:22;
(3) Luke 17:12;
(4) perhaps Matthew 26:6; parallel passage, Mark 14:3. And worshipped him (Matthew 4:9, note). From the parallel passages we may see that the word here refers more to the posture of his body than to the nature of his thoughts. Saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. Leprosy stood in so peculiar and solemn a relation to the Israelites that it would hardly be included under the terms, "all manner of disease, and all manner of sickness," in Matthew 4:23, 24; we have therefore no evidence that up to this time any leper had been healed by our Lord. The man's utterance marks, therefore, a distinct advance in faith. None like him, the object of the Divine "stroke," had been healed; but from lesser examples of Jesus' power he argues to the greater. Sure of Jesus' power, he appeals to his heart. Make me clean (καθαρίσαι). Not merely "heal me;" for a leper could not but think of healing and its consequences - restoration to social and religious privileges (vide infra).
And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.
Verse 3. - And Jesus put forth (and he stretched forth, Revised Version) his hand, and touched him. The careful record of the twofold action may be either a trace of the increasing astonishment of the bystanders or a means of indicating that this was no accidental touch, but the result of deliberate will (cf. Matthew 14:31). According to the Law (Leviticus 13:46 with Leviticus 11:40), our Lord by this action would become unclean until the evening. But of this there is no hint. That indeed he could not by it contract any real impurity, or even any ceremonial impurity in the eyes of God, is self-evident. But how could he himself justify his exemption from the Law? and how could the people justify it? Probably both he and they felt that as "the priests, in their contact with the leper to be adjudged, were exempted from the law of defilement," much more was the One who "cleansed" him. "He says, I will,' to meet the heresy of Photinus. He commands, because of Afius. He touches, because of Manichseus" (Ambrose, in Ford). Saying, I will (θέλω). Synchronous with the action. Be thou clean; be thou made clean (Revised Version); καθαρίσθητι. The external power which the man had himself acknowledged was now applied to him, and he was made clean by it, physically and therefore ceremonially (cf. Bishop Westcott, on 'Hebrews,' p. 346). And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. (On the parallel passage in Mark and Luke, "departed from him," see Professor Marshall, in Expositor, June, 1891, p. 464).
And Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man; but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.
Verse 4. - And Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man; i.e. of those who were not present (Bengel). The command may have been given
(1) to save the man from temptation to self-importance; or
(2) to prevent any rumour of the miracle coming to the ears of the recognized authorities, and thus prejudicing them in their verdict upon his case; or, and more probably,
(3) for the Lord's sake, for this seems to be the reason for the command in all the other occasions when it is given (Matthew 9:30; Matthew 12:16; Matthew 17:9; Mark 5:43; Mark 7:36; Mark 8:26; cf. Mark 1:34; Mark 3:12). The Lord did not desire to be thronged with multitudes who came only to see his miracles; he would work in quiet (cf. the quotation from Isaiah in Matthew 12:18-21). But go thy way, show thyself to the priest. The latter clause belongs verbally to Leviticus 13:49, but the thought is that of Leviticus 14:2, sqq. Without the official verdict, the man could not be restored to communal privileges (so also Luke 17:14). And offer the gift that Moses commanded. Including
(1) "two living clean birds, and cedar wood, and scarlet, and hyssop" (Leviticus 14:4);
(2) "two he-lambs without blemish, and one ewe lamb of the first year without blemish, and three tenth parts of an epbah of fine flour for a meal offering, mingled with oil, and one log of oil" (Leviticus 14:10), unless he he poor, in which case lesser sacrifices may be substituted (vers. 21, 22; cf. Keil, 'Arch.,' § 59; and for details of the traditional ceremonial, Edersheim, 'Temple,' pp. 315-318). For a testimony unto them (εἰς μαρτύριον αὐτοῖς). Although a fair sense might be extracted by connecting this clause with. the words, "Moses commanded," it would, especially in the parallel passages, be a very awkward addition to them. Rather it must represent the man's "offering" in its ultimate purpose, and this not necessarily in the man's own mind. So more clearly the "Western" reading in the parallel passage in Luke, ἵνα εἰς μαρτύριον η΅ ὑμῖν τοῦτο. Whether "them" refers to the priests or to the nation generally is not of grave importance, for the priests themselves, in act and feeling, represented the nation (cf. Matthew 7:29, note). Of more interest is the question - What is that which is here testified of?
(1) Prima facie the man's own state. The performance of the rites would be legal evidence that he was clean.
(2) Yet this interpretation is hardly borne out by the usage of the phrase. Αἰς μαρτύριον in the LXX. (never closely with the dative as here) seems to always refer to that which is both permanent and important (cf. Genesis 21:30; Genesis 31:44; Deuteronomy 31:26; Joshua 24:27; Hosea 2:12). And in the New Testament with the dative it elsewhere refers either to work for the Lord (Matthew 10:18; Matthew 24:14; Mark 6:11) or to a solemn judgment (James 5:3). So probably here. The man's offering is to be a permanent testimony to the nation of our Lord's relation to the Law. His miracles confirmed his profession (Matthew 5:17).
(3) Some, however, accepting the above view in the main, translate, "for a testimony against them" (as Mark 6:11; cf. Luke 9:5, and as perhaps James 5:3, but vide Plumptre there); but it is unlikely that so harsh a thought towards the nation would be expressed by our Lord at this early stage of his ministry. In Mark 6:11 there is a definite reason for its use.
And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him,
Verses 5-13. - The healing of the centurion's servant. (Vers. 5-10; parallel passage Luke 7:1-3, 6-10. Vers. 11, 12, equivalent to Luke 13:28, 29.) According to St. Luke, the centurion sent first elders of the Jews to plead for him, and afterwards friends, and expressly said by them that he did not think himself worthy to come to Jesus. Their return in ver. 10 seems to forbid the supposition that he eventually came. This detailed narrative seems more likely than St. Matthew's, which is not only compressed, but, if taken by itself, gives a wrong idea of what appears to have actually taken place. But quod tacit per alium facit per se, and as Trench points out, this is "an exchange of persons, of which all historical narrative and all the language of our common life is full. A comparison of Mark 10:35 with ch. 20:20 will furnish another example of the same." The fact is that St. Matthew (or, perhaps, the original framer of the source that he used, or those through whose hands it passed) seizes on the Gentilic origin of the centurion, without troubling himself to record his previous kind and generous attitude towards the Jews, and the interest that they now show on his behalf. This led to the omission of the second group of messengers also, and, of course, to the modification of the language where necessary, e.g. ver. 13. For the same reason, St. Matthew records vers. 11, 12 in this place. For the contrast between this and the superficially similar miracle recorded in John 4:46, sqq., cf. Trench on that miracle. Verse 5. - And when Jesus (Revised Version, he) was entered into Capernaum. (On Capernaum, see Matthew 4:13.) There came unto him; i.e. by messengers, as we learn from St. Luke (vide supra). A centurion, beseeching him. The centurion probably belonged to the soldiers of Antipas, in whose district Capernaum lay. They would naturally be organized after the Roman manner; of the forces of the Indian native states and our own. It should be observed, by the way, that even the imperial troops stationed in Palestine were drawn, not from distant lands, but from the non-Jewish inhabitants of the country, perhaps especially from Samaritans (vide Schurer, I. 2. p. 50).
And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented.
Verse 6. - Matthew only. And saying, Lord, my servant; Revised Version margin, "boy" (ὁ παῖς μου), just as in some English-speaking communities "boy" is commonly used for "manservant." In the parallel passage of Luke, the narrative speaks of him as δοῦλος, the message as παῖς. Lieth. Perforce (βέβληται). At home; Revised Version, in the house; i.e. of the centurion. Sick of the palsy, grievously tormented (cf. 1 Macc. 9:55, 56). "Paralysis with contraction of the joints is accompanied with intense suffering, and, when united, as it much oftener is in the hot climates of the East and of Africa than among us, with tetanus, both 'grievously torments,' and rapidly brings on dissolution" (Trench, 'Miracles,' p231: 1866). Observe that the statement of the case is itself a petition.
And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him.
Verse 7. - Matthew only. And Jesus (Revised Version, be) saith unto him, I Will come and heal him. The emphasis is not on the coming, but on the person who comes (ἐγὼ ἐλθών). Observe Christ's perfect self-consciousness. Heal (θεραπεύσω) ; contrast ver. 8.
The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed.
Verse 8. - The (Revised Version, and the) centurion answered and said. His reply as reported in Matthew is almost verbally the same as his second message in Luke, save for the important addition there of his unworthiness to come. Lord, I am not worthy (ἱκανός); Matthew 3:11, note. That thou shouldest come under my roof. "My," probably emphatic: however thou mayest honour others. But speak the word only; but only say the word (Revised Version); ἀλλὰ μόνον εἰπὲ λόγῳ. Only say with a single word what is to be done, and it shall be done (cf. ver. 16). And my servant shall be healed (ἰαθήσεται); Matthew 4:23, note.
For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.
Verse 9. - For I am (for I also am, Revised Version) a man under authority, having soldiers under me (under myself soldiers, Revised Version): and I say to this man (this one, Revised Version), Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. The centurion says that he knows the power of a command when given by one in authority, through the obedience that he himself shows and through that which he himself receives. Observe, he naturally orders his soldiers movement, and his slave work. Further, may not "and to my slave" represent the climax of his faith? He felt that the powers of nature (at least those concerned in this illness) were not only subordinate to Jesus, but were completely under his power. At his command they would act and the man be healed.
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.
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).
And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.
Verses 11, 12. - In Luke (Luke 13:28, 29) not joined to this miracle, but placed after the warning about mere professors (our Matthew 7:23). Also they are there given in the reverse order. Taking the other facts (ver. 5, note) about this miracle into consideration, there can be little doubt but that St. Matthew does not place these verses in their historical connexion. He wishes to emphasize the teaching of the miracle, that Gentiles accept Christ, though Jews reject him. For this reason also he gives the two verses in the reverse order. And. In contrast (δέ) to this comparative absence of belief in Israel. Many. Not in the parallel passage in Luke, but it agrees with the aim of St. Matthew's Gospel. Shall come. Though not emphatic, as it is in the parallel passage in Luke, yet expressive of purpose and decision. From the east and (Revised Version. the) west. Not only residents in Palestine, like this centurion, but from the furthest limits of the earth. The thought was well known; e.g. Malachi 1:11; Isaiah 59:19; also Jeremiah 16:19; Zechariah 8:22. And shall sit down; i.e. at a feast. The image, taken from Isaiah 25:6, is exceedingly common in Jewish Haggadic (i.e. mostly parabolic) teaching (cf. Dr. Taylor's 'Sayings,' etc., 3:25; Schurer, II..2. 174). With Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. An early" Western" reading is, "in the bosom of Abraham," etc. (cf. Luke 16:23). Probably a traditional form current among Jewish Christians. But the children; sons (Revised Version). Those who ought rightfully to enjoy its privileges (Matthew 5:9, note). In Matthew 13:38 those so called answer fully to the appellation. Of the kingdom. "Rather than of the king; since many are in the kingdom, whom notwithstanding the king rejects as traitors; whereas all the children of the king are adopted as co-heirs with his only begotten Son" (Beza, in Ford). This interpretation is attractive, but doubtless false. The Hebrew idiom enables the writer to suggest the idea of the Jews, who are by nature heirs of the Divine kingdom, being notwithstanding excluded (cf Acts 13:46). Shall be cast out (Revised Version, forth); ἐκβκηθήσονται (Matthew 7:4, note). The "Western" reading, ἐξελεύσονται, suggests that they shall go out by their own present act of refusing blessing. Into (Revised Version, the) outer darkness. The form of the expression, which comes only in Matthew (Matthew 22:13; Matthew 25:30), points to a double conception; they shall be cast into the darkness, and cast outside the palace within which the feast is going on. Such is the loss in its personal (εἰς τὸ σκότος) and in its social (τὸ ἐξώτερον) aspect. There shall be (Revised Version, the) weeping and gnashing of teeth. The article, which should strictly be repeated before gnashing, points to a recognized conception. The phrase occurs (except in the parallel passage, Luke 13:28) only in St. Matthew (Matthew 13:42, 50; Matthew 22:13; Matthew 24:51; Matthew 25:30), in each case contrasting the place into which the wicked are sent with that which they might have enjoyed. Observe the description of "hell" - absence of spiritual light; separation from the company of the saved; lamentation; impotent rage. The second couplet corresponds to the first.
But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.
Verse 13. - Matthew only. The parallel passage, Luke 7:10, gives the result found by the messengers on their return. And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and (omitted by the Revised Version) as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. As. Not strictly proportionate, but in the same way as (Matthew 6:12; Matthew 18:33) thou hast now believed, be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame (Revised Version, in that) hour.
And when Jesus was come into Peter's house, he saw his wife's mother laid, and sick of a fever.
Verses 14, 15. - The healing of St. Peter's wife's mother. Parallel passages: Mark 1:29-31; Luke 4:38, 39. Verse 14. - And when Jesus was come into Peter's house. Straight from the synagogue (parallel passages), for food, ver. 15 (Chrysostom). It seems clear, from the parallel passages, that St. Peter had not previously told our Lord about his mother-in-law's illness, but that he, with others, now asked (ἠρώτησαν, Luke) him to heal her. Among these others were probably Andrew, who also lived in the house, and James and John, who accompanied our Lord (Mark). Whether or not it was Peter's own house, we have no means of telling (but see next verse). He saw. Presumably on entering, before they asked him about her. His wife's mother (1 Corinthians 9:5). As St. Peter lived for some forty years more, he can hardly have been now very long married (cf. Bengel). Laid (βεβλημένην); ver. 6. And sick of a fever.
And he touched her hand, and the fever left her: and she arose, and ministered unto them.
Verse 15. - And he touched her hand. Perhaps with her, as with the leper (ver. 3), the word alone would not have been enough. In both cases the faith seems to have been below that of the centurion. And the fever left her: and she arose, and ministered unto them; Revised Version. him, with manuscripts. Serving them all (parallel passages), and him in particular. If it were her own house this would be doubly natural (cf Luke 10:40). The change of tense (aorist to imperfect) contrasts the single act of arising from her bed and her continued ministry at the meal (cf. Matthew 4:11).
When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick:
Verses 16, 17. - The great number of his miracles, and the secret of his performing them. Verse 16. - Parallel passages: Mark 1:32-34; Luke 4:40. When the even was come; Revised Version, and when even-According to the original connexion, preserved, as it seems, in Mark and Luke, this was the evening of the day in which our Lord had healed the man with the withered hand in the synagogue. Probably, therefore, the day had been a sabbath. But with the setting sun (parallel passage in Luke), or rather, according to Talmudic teaching, when three stars were visible after sunset (vide Lightfoot, ' Her. Hebr.,' in lee.), the sabbath was over (Leviticus 23:32), and people were free to carry out their sick. Should the day not have been a sabbath, we may presume that the evening was chosen as cooler for the sick to be moved, and as more convenient to those who carried them, the day's work being done. They brought unto him many that were possessed with devils (Matthew 4:24, note): and he cast out the spirits with his (Revised Version, a) word (ver. 8). In contrast to saying over them the long formulas of exorcism used by others. And healed all that were sick. The stress is on all. None were so ill as to be beyond his power, and no kind of disease too great for him to subdue.
That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.
Verse 17. - Matthew only. A summary statement of Christ's relation to diseases. That it might be fulfilled (o%pw plhrwqh = ""); Matthew 2:23, note. Which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses; diseases (Revised Version); Isaiah 53:4, from the Hebrew. Took (ἔλαβεν) regards the transference, the assumption; bare (ἐβάστασεν), the oppressiveness; infirmities, negative; diseases, positive. St. Matthew in this verse calls attention to two points. First, that prophecy had foretold that Christ would heal the sick. For this he might have adduced Isaiah 35:5, 6, and similar passages; but as one verse will serve his double purpose, he prefers it. Secondly, that the method by which Christ did this was specially noteworthy. He did not perform miracles by magic (as is commonly asserted of him in the Talmud; cf. Laible, 'Jesus Christ in Talmud,' p. 44: Berlin, 1891),nor by the power of God exerted as it were externally on his behalf, nor by his own inherent Divine power, but by himself bearing the sicknesses that he removed. He wrought his miracles at his own expense,and that expense the greatest. The thought is far-reaching, and implies both that he bore the ultimate cause of sickness, the sin of the world (John 1:29), and also that each miracle of healing meant for him a fresh realization of what bearing the sin of the world included. In other words, the passage in Isaiah, as interpreted by St. Matthew, refers, not only to the Passion as such, but also to Christ's suffering an earnest and a foretaste of it at each miracle. May not this have been in part the cause of his sigh at one miracle (Mark 7:34), and his deep emotion at another (John 11:33)? Observe that this may be the complementary side of his experience recorded in Mark 5:30 (parallel passage: Luke 8:46), that "power" went out of him. A miracle of healing, though performed in momentary unconsciousness of what was taking place, still necessitated personal contact with sin, which to Christ's whole nature meant moral effort. The utterance recorded by Origen, "For those that are sick! was sick, and' for those that hunger I suffered hunger, and for those that thirst I suffered thirst" (Bishop Westcott, 'Introd.,' Appendix C; Resch, 'Agmpha,' Log. 47), probably expresses the same thought as our verse, though in the language of Matthew 25:35, 36. A similar idea seems to underlie the well-known saying of Talm. Bab., 'Sanh.,' 98b, with reference to Messiah, "The Leper of the house of Rabbi is his name; for it is said, 'Surely he hath berne our griefs, and carried our sorrows.'" On this and on Raymund Martini's false reading, "the Sick One," vide Dalman ('Leid. Mess.,' p. 36: 1888).
Now when Jesus saw great multitudes about him, he gave commandment to depart unto the other side.
Verse 18-ch. 9:8. - 2. Incidents grouped round the thought of the external trials endured by Christ in his work.
(1) No settled home (vers. 19-22).
(2) His exposure to the elements (vers. 23-27).
(3) His rejection by Gadarenes (vers. 28-34).
(4) And by scribes (Matthew 9:1-8).
Yet there was also recognition of him by
(1) a scribe (ver. 19);
(2) another of the disciples (ver. 21);
(3) the winds and the sea (ver. 26);
(3) demoniacs (probably Jews, vide infra) and demons (vers. 29, 31);
(4) a paralytic and those who brought him (Matthew 9:2);
(5) the multitudes (Matthew 9:8). Verse 18. - Parallel passages: Mark 4:35; Luke 8:22. Now when Jesus saw great multitudes about him. So also the Revised Version and Westcott and Hort margin; but Westcott and Hort text, "a multitude," with B. Probably the received text is derived from ver. 1. From the parallel passages it is natural to infer that this crossing was some little time subsequent to the evening of the day on which he had healed Peter's wife's mother, etc. (vers. 14-16), and that it was on the day in which he had spoken the parable of the sower. He gave commandment to depart unto the other side. It was good for the multitude that he should leave them, for they were wont to take too carnal a view of his mission (cf. John 6:15), and would now have time to consider its true nature; and it was an opportunity of blessing to all who were on that further shore.
And a certain scribe came, and said unto him, Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.
Verses 19-22. - Parallel passage: Luke 9:57-62. The would-be followers. (On this section, cf. by all means Trench, 'Studies in the Gospels,' pp. 156-167: 1867.) Notice that St. Luke
(1) places it almost at the beginning of the Great Episode, calling attention by it to the qualifications required of those who would follow the Lord Up to Jerusalem;
(2) adds a third example. So far as we have materials for deciding, the chronological position found in St. Matthew seems more probable. Verse 19. - And a certain scribe came; Revised Version, and there came a scribe. Contrast the order in ver. 2. There the leper was recognized as such before ever he came near, an emphasis being laid on him and his actions by the addition of "Behold;" here the official position is of but secondary importance. A certain; a (Revised Version); εϊς. The Hebrew numeral not uncommonly stands for an indefinite article (cf. Matthew 9:18. [Westcott and Hort]; 26:69). Trench's "one scribe... with, perhaps, an emphasis on the 'one' to mark how unfrequent such offers were," is tempting, but improbable. Scribe. St. Matthew alone records his profession. Perhaps because the distinction of Jewish classes presented itself more vividly to his mind than to St. Luke's. And said unto him; Master; better, with the Revised Version margin, teacher (διδάσκαλε). It may be that he recognized one who was superior in an important branch of his own occupation, or, less probably, that he willingly accorded to him a title due to his occupation (cf. John 3:2; and infra, Matthew 12:38). I will follow thee; ἀκολουθήσω (not ἐγὼ ἀκολουθήσω σοι). Self is placed in the background; he is wholly taken up with that which he proposes doing. Whithersoever thou goest. Though, as a scribe, he would naturally prefer quiet. Contrast John 6:66 (περιεπάτουν). But the discomforts would be greater than he expected. Observe, however, that there is no sign. in him of that φιλαργυρία of which he has been accused (Cram. Cat.). Trench strangely favours the suggestion that he was Judas. Is Revelation 14:4 a reminiscence of this offer?
And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.
Verse 20. - And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes. The Asiatic fox (Vulpes corsac) is decidedly smaller than our European species, but has the same habits. And the birds of the air (Revised Version, heaven) have nests. So the Old Latin and the common text of the Vulgate (nidos), but birds do not generally live in nests, nor is "nests" so natural a meaning for κατασκηνώσεις as" shelters" (cf. Trench, loc. cit.). The renderings in the true text of the Vulgate (tabernacula), and in Old Latin k, and Cyprian (devorsoria) are interesting. Revised Version margin has, "Gk. lodging places" (cf. Matthew 13:32 and parallel pas sages). But the Son of man. The original phrase, "one like unto a son of man," was used in Daniel 7:13, apparently as a symbol of the Jewish nation, to which was to be given supreme power. There is no evidence that it was understood of Messiah before our Lord employed it, but rather the re verse (cf. Bishop Westcott, on John 1:51, and especially Professor Stanton, 'Jewish and Christian Messiah,' pp. 109, 239, sqq.; yet see Professor Sunday, in Expositor, January, 1891; cf. further, Matthew 9:6, note). Our Lord uses it here for the sake of the contrast it suggested to the lower creation. Man, the head of creation (as none would acknowledge more fully than this student of the Law), has in the person of the ideal Man not even the luxuries which correspond to those enjoyed by beasts and birds. Such was the love and self-abasement of the Restorer of creation (Romans 8:21). Hath not where to lay his head. He has no home to call his own.
And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.
Verse 21. - And another of his (Revised Version, the) disciples said unto him. Disciples in the wider sense (Matthew 5:1, note),whether the twelve had or had not been chosen. In the latter case, the man may have been Thomas (Trench, loc. cit.), but hardly Philip (Clem. Alex.) after John 1:43. Yet it is precarious to see in him the despondency of Thomas (John 11:6; John 20:24, 25) merely because his father is dead, and he has scruples about immediately following Christ. Lord, suffer me first. The man's words imply a consciousness of a call. His heart told him that he ought to go, but he asks for a delay, and, in fact, a real difficulty seems to hinder him from going. St. Luke places the Lord's "Follow me" before the man's request; but here, as in textual criticism, proclivi scriptioni praestat ardua. To go and bury my father. Then lying dead. Of all filial duties perhaps the most bind-ins (cf. Tobit 4:3 Tobit 14:10, 11). Observe
(1) that the burial would take place much sooner than is usual with us, and would seldom be more than twenty-four hours after death;
(2) that, however, according to Jewish law, the ceremonial observances connected with the burial and consequent purifications would have taken many days (Edersheim, 'Life,' 2:133).
But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.
Verse 22. - But Jesus said unto him, Follow me, and let; Revised Version, leave. Yet the thought of leaving seems here merged in that of permitting (cf. Matthew 23:14; Mark 5:37; Mark 10:14). The dead (Revised Version, to) bury their (Revised Version, own) dead (τοὺς ἑαυτῶν νεκρούς). The paradox was self-interpreting. Let the spiritually dead have to do with death; dead men belong in a special sense to them. Observe that there was no danger of his father remaining unburied. Christ means that there are times when his service admits of no postponement, however sacred the conflicting duty. His followers must on such occasions be very Nazarites (Numbers 6:7) or high priests (Leviticus 21:11). St. Luke adds, "But go thou, and publish abroad the kingdom of God," and adds a third similar case.
And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him.
Verses 23-27. - The storm on the lake. Parallel passages: Mark 4:35-41; Luke 8:22-25. Matthew, as usual, is both shorter and less precise. Nosgen and others see in this an "undesigned coincidence" with his still being at "the receipt of custom" (Matthew 9:9). Verse 23. - And when he was entered into a ship (Revised Version, boat), his disciples followed him. Did St. Matthew see in the very order of embarking a symbol of the Christian life? It may be so, but a more probable reason for mentioning the order is that our Lord was, perhaps, on this occasion not using a beat that belonged to any of the disciples. Passage may have been given to him at his request, and of course the disciples went where he went.
And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep.
Verse 24. - And, behold (Matthew 1:20, note). Perhaps when with Jesus they hardly expected a storm. There arose a great tempest in the sea. St. Matthew records only the effect of the sudden rush (λαῖλαψ in the parallel passages) of the wind down the gorges. Insomuch that the ship (Revised Version, boat) was covered with the waves. The waves swept again and again clean over the boat. Slowly but surely the boat was filling(parallel passages). But he was asleep. All the time (ἑκάθευδεν). Yet what a contrast to Jonah (Jonah 1:5).
And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish.
Verse 25. - And his disciples (Revised Version, they) came to him (καὶ προσελθόντες). The insertion of the words, "his disciples," distracts the mind from the fact of their coming. Their skill and their long experience of those waters now failed them. And awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish (Κύριε σῶσον ἀπολλύμεθα). The last and most emphatic word comes in all the narratives. They had no hope of escape from the death that was already overtaking them except through him.
And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.
Verse 26. - And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? (Matthew 6:30, note). The winds and waves were mastering their souls as well as their bodies. Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea. -Rebuked (ἐπετίμησε); cf. Psalm 104:7. The words spoken are recorded by St. Mark. And there was a great calm. Corresponding to the "great tempest" (ver. 24).
But the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!
Verse 27. - But (Revised Version, and) the men. Perhaps the disciples ("Sic als Menschen staunch," Nosgen), but probably those to whom the boat belonged (ver. 23, note), the crew. It seems very far-fetched to explain it of all men who heard of the miracle. Marvelled. As the multitudes (Matthew 9:33; but contrast Matthew 14:33). Saying, What manner of man is this? (Ποταπός ἐστιν οϋτος). Parallel passages, "Who then?" (τίς ἄρα;). The term indicates the slightness of their knowledge of his character (probably not his origin, which, according to Phryn. [Wetstein], would be ποδαπός; though it may be doubted whether the distinction can be pressed in Hellenistic Greek). They seem, with Nicodemus, to have recognized that holiness was an essential condition of performing miracles (John 3:2), but not to have realized that this condition was satisfied in Jesus. That even the winds and the sea obey him. "Him," emphatic (αὐτῷ ὑπακούουσιν). The miracle! has been seen to be a parable of the security of the ship of the Church since at least the days of Tertullian ('De Bapt.,' § 12). (For the comparison generally of the Church to a ship, compare especially Bishop Lightfoot on Ignatius, 'Polyc.,' § it.)
And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way.
Verses 28-34. - The Gadarene demoniacs. Parallel passages: Mark 5:1-20; Luke 8:26-39, where see full notes. Matthew is much less detailed. Matthew mentions two demoniacs; the parallel passages, one; the reason may be either that one was less fierce than the other, or that only one came from Gerasa (Nosgen). But in our present knowledge of the extent of inspiration, we cannot confidently affirm that the evangelists were kept from errors in numbers, and that the addition of the second demoniac is not due' to some misunderstanding, perhaps of the use of the plural in the demoniac's answer in the parallel passage, Mark 5:9 (cf. Weiss, 'Marcus-ev.,' p. 172). (For a similar difficulty, cf. the note on Matthew 9:27-31.) With regard to this mysterious narrative generally, the explanation of its details can be little more than empirical in our present knowledge of psychology and of spiritual influences. Verse 28. - And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes; Revised Version, Gadarenes, which is certainly right here, as is "Gerasenes" in the parallel passages (cf. Westcott and Hort, it. 'App.'). Gergesa (Textus Receptus here, and Alexandrian authorities in parallel passages) and Gerasa (unless, with Origen on John 1:28, we understand by this the Arabian Gerasa fifty miles away)are probably forms of the same name now represented by Khersa, a village discovered (? in 1857) by Thomson ('The Land and the Book,' pp. 375, sqq., edit. 1880) on the eastern side of the lake, and lying "within a few rods of the shore," with "an immense mountain" rising directly above it, "in which are ancient tombs, out of some of which the two men possessed of the devils may have issued to meet Jesus. The lake is so near the base of the mountain that the swine, rushing madly down it, could not stop, but would be hurried on into the water and drowned." To this Origen's description (loc. cit.) corresponds: "Gergesa, to which the Gergesenes belong, is an ancient city by what is now called the Lake of Tiberias, by which is a steep place adjacent to the lake, and down this, as is pointed out, the swine were cast headlong by the demons." Gadara, in some sense the capital of Peraea (Josephus, 'Bell. Jud.,' 4:07. 3), and one of the towns of the Decapolis confederacy (ch. 4:25), was some twelve miles distant from Khersa, and six miles from the nearest part of the lake, to which, in fact (as the stamp of a ship on its coins shows), its territory extended (cf. Schiirer, II. 1. p. 100, sqq.). St. Matthew describes the locality, not by the little-known village, but by the well-known city of the district, to which (as we may gather from the parallel passage, Mark 5:20) the news of the miracle afterwards spread. But since he leaves the expression, "the city," in vers. 33, 34 as he fontal it in his sources, i.e. Khersa, the result is at first misleading There met him (ὑπήντησαν; occurrerunt, Vulgate). St. Matthew (contrast vers. 2, 5, 19) omits the nearer approach recorded in the parallel passages, Mark 5:6 and Luke 8:28. Two (vide supra). Possessed with devils (Matthew 4:24, note), coming out of the tombs; Revised Version, coming forth out. The Greek shows that they did not merely come from among the tombs, but actually out of them (cf. the experience of Warburton, as quoted in Trench on this miracle). Exceeding fierce, so that no man might (Revised Version, could) pass by that way. Matthew only. It deepens the contrast to their present behaviour. Perhaps "that way" refers to the Roman road by the side of the lake (cf. Thomson, op. cit., p. 378).
And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time?
Verse 29. - And, behold. This probably seemed to the evangelist not the least of the many strange things that he introduced by this phrase. They cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee? (Τί ἡμῖν καὶ σοί; מה לנו ולד, frequent in the Old Testament, e.g. 2 Samuel 16:10). What community either of interest or of character? The deepest realization of personal sinfulness may coexist with absolute ignorance of the Divine love. Jesus. Omitted by the Revised Version here, yet genuine in the parallel passages, Matthew omitted from their utterance the name which (Matthew 1:21) indicated the bridging of the chasm between the sinner and God. Thou Son of God? Their sense of sin, their belief in a future torment, and their use of this phrase, alike point to their being Jews. Observe how great a contrast is implied by this term on the lips of demoniacs. As in 1 John 3:8 (cf. Bishop Westcott there), it brings out the nature of the conflict ("the spiritual adversary of man has a mightier spiritual antagonist"), so here. Art thou come hither - had they felt themselves safe in that distant spot and its gloomy surroundings, far away from all religious influence? - to torment us before the time? Their abject terror is still more evident in the parallel passages. Observe
(1) the words are not given as those of the demons, but as the men's own;
(2) a future torment is assumed;
(3) they have no doubt as to their own share in it.
And there was a good way off from them an herd of many swine feeding.
Verses 30, 31. - And there was a good way off from them a herd of many swine feeding. So (and, Revised Version) the devils besought him, saying, If thou cast us out (Matthew only), suffer us to go away (send us away, Revised Version). This is distinguished from ver. 29 as expressly the utterance of the evil spirits. In the true text there is no thought of permission, but only of command (ἀπόστειλον). They recognize his mastery. Into the herd of swine; and not into the place of torment - "the abyss" of the parallel passage, Luke 8:31. If he did not send them there, they might hope for a long respite, and one perhaps spent in various tenements. Further notice:
(1) The unclean chose the unclean
(2) Though we cannot attribute to the evil spirits absolute foreknowledge of what would happen in this case, their past experience may have enabled them to feel sure that they would have their love of destroying fully gratified.
(3) it is also not impossible that they may have considered that their entering the swine would be likely to prejudice the Gerasenes against Jesus.
So the devils besought him, saying, If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine.
And he said unto them, Go. And when they were come out, they went into the herd of swine: and, behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters.
Verses 32, 33. - And he said unto them, Go. As they asked; for he was not yet come to send them to their final home. He would not employ his inherent Divine power even against the kingdom of Satan, or forcibly disturb the conditions under which evil existed in the world. Notice further:
(1) That as regards the right to destroy the swine when they were the property of others, our Lord in no way destroyed them himself, but only did not interfere with the powers of the evil spirits in giving them permission to work out their own purposes. It is possible, too, though far from certain, that the owners of the swine were acting illegally in owning them (though even then our Lord was not constituted as judge, Luke 12:14); but this supposes first that they were Jews, and secondly that it was illegal for Jews to keep swine, of which suppositions not even the latter can be clearly proved either by Scripture or by early forms of tradition.
(2) The destruction of the swine might well be beneficial to the complete recovery of the men.
(3) It would fully arouse the Gerasenes, and bring home to them the holiness of the Lord from whom evil spirits fled, and the call to personal holiness that such a Presence demanded. The result of their being thus amused lay with themselves (John 3:19; 2 Corinthians 2:16).
(4) It would also prove an important element in attracting the attention both of the neighbouring district (e.g. Gadam, ver. 28; cf. parallel passage, Mark 5:20) and of all places to which the news would come. And when they were come out, they (Revised Version, and they came out and) went into the herd of (Revised Version omits "herd of") swine: and, behold, the whole herd of swine (Revised Version omits "of swine") ran violently (Revised Version, rushed; emphatic; in the Greek it follows "behold") down a steep place (Revised Version, down the steep, κατὰ τοῦ κρημνοῦ) ; tide supra, ver. 28, note. Into the sea, and perished in the waters. And they that kept them (fed them, revised version; οἱ δὲ βόσκοντες. Those whose duty it was to drive the swine from place to place, that they might find food. Observe that the swine were "far" (ver. 30) from Jesus and the demoniacs, so that the swineherds need not have passed near the demoniacs' dwelling. Also they were on the mountain, and the demoniacs dwelt, as it seems, near the road at the bottom (ver. 28, end). Fled. Doubtless in terror. And went their ways; and went away (Revised Version); ἀπελθόντες. "Ways" is in this passage probably the old genitive singular (cf. 'Bible Word Book,' s.v.). Into the city. Khersa (ver. 28, note). The addition in the parallel passages of "and in the country (ἀπήγγειλαν εἰς τὴν, πόλιν καὶ εἰς τοὺς ἀγρούς) " seems to primarily refer to the news being carried also to those men of the city who were at their daily labour outside it. And told everything, and what was befallen to the possessed of the devils; Revised Version, them that were possessed with devils. Matthew repeats the plural (ver. 28, note). Observe: business first, philanthropy second.
And they that kept them fled, and went their ways into the city, and told every thing, and what was befallen to the possessed of the devils.
And, behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus: and when they saw him, they besought him that he would depart out of their coasts.
Verse 34. - And, behold. The third of the stages (vers. 29, 32) in this incident that were apparent to all. The whole city; i.e. Khersa, from the parallel passages (ver. 28, note); all the city (Revised Version, though a similar phrase is not altered in ver. 32); πᾶσα ἡ πόλις. Not really less comprehensive, but giving a less vivid representation of one united body than ὅλη ἡ πόλις (Mark 1:33, and especially Luke 8:39); cf. Matthew 4:23, 24, ἐν ὅλῃ τῇ Γαλιλαία εἰς ὅλην τὴν Συριάν. Came out to meet Jesus (εἰς ὑπάντησιν τῷ [Westcott and Hort margin, τοῦ] Ἰησοῦ). A distance of half a mile or so would satisfy the expression. The true reading, ὑπάντησιν (also Matthew 25:1; John 12:13), would seem to suggest the closest proximity (cf. Bishop Lightfoot on ὑπεναντίος Colossians 2:14), while ἀπάντησιν (Matthew 25:6; Acts 28:15; 1 Thessalonians 4:17) connotes a, contrast to the place left. Συνάντησιν, again (Textus Receptus here, and John 12:13, D, el.), emphasizes the thought of companionship. And when they saw him, they besought him that he would depart out of their coasts; from their borders (Revised Version). These Gerasenes, vexed at the loss of wealth, felt, like the demoniacs, that there was nothing in common between themselves and Jesus, but, unlike them, showed no consciousness of sin. Without this he could do nothing for them, so he granted their request (Matthew 9:1). St. Peter also once bade Jesus depart (Luke 5:8), but his reason, "for I am a sinful man, O Lord," showed a heartfelt desire after the deepest union with him. With the ungranted request of the man to remain with Jesus, and his subsequent preaching to these Gerasenes and others (parallel passages), St. Matthew does not concern himself.