Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary - Alford
And he entered into a ship, and passed over, and came into his own city.9:1.] Certainly this verse should be the sequel of the history in the last chapter. It is not connected with the miracle following;—which is placed by St. Luke at a different time, but with the indefinite introduction of ἐγένετο ἐν μιᾷ τῶν ἡμερῶν.
[τὸ] πλοῖον, not the ship, as applying to any particular ship previously used, or kept by our Lord and the disciples,—but simply generic,—and expressed idiomatically in English by a ship, as E. V. τὰ πλοῖα, ‘ships,’ are the whole genus, in which embarkation might have been made: τὸ πλοῖον, the individual of that genus, in which embarkation actually was made: but no further defined by the article, than as being one of that genus, not as being any one previously mentioned ship, or one hired for that purpose. This import of the article has been denied by Middleton, and the generic rendering in this commentary consequently impugned by his followers. In reply, I may observe (1) that of the occurrence of the generic sense, there is no doubt, even on Middleton’s own shewing. In ch. 10:36, ἐχθροὶ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου, οἱ οἰκιακοὶ αὐτοῦ, he recognizes in substance the generic sense, by rendering τοῦ ἀνθρώπου, ‘every man,’ or ‘men generally,’ though he calls the use ‘hypothetic.’ Compare also ἐξῆλθεν ὁ σπείοων τοῦ σπείρειν, ch. 13:3, where ὁ σπ. is merely in the singular what οἱ σπείροντες would be in the plural, viz. ‘he that soweth,’ ‘a sower,’ generic. See also ch. 15:11: Luke 11:24; ch. 19:10: 1Corinthians 7:3; ch. 25:32 (where in English also we might say, ‘as the shepherd divideth the sheep from the goats’); also ch. 10:12, 27. (2) We may say, if we please, that some πλοῖον is implied in ἐμβάς, and that the article refers to such implication. But this is in fact amounts to the generic sense. If I say, without any previous mention of a particular ship, ‘When he had embarked in the ship;’ I imply by the word ‘embarked,’ connexion with a genus, ships: by adding, ‘in the ship,’ I signify elliptically, ‘in the ship in which he did embark;’ but I no further identify the ship, than as belonging to the genus before implied. (3) The use of the English article in the expression, ‘in the house’ (= indoors), ‘in the field,’ &c., is a case in point: the articles here also being generic.
τὴν ἰδ. πόλ.] Capernaum, where our Lord now dwelt: cf. ch. 4:13.
2. τὴν πίστιν αὐτ.] Namely, in letting him down through the roof, because the whole house and space round the door was full, Mark 2:4.
αὐτῶν must be supposed to include the sick man, who was at least a consenting party to the bold step which they took. These words are common to the three Evangelists, as also ἀφέωνταί σου (or σοι) αἱ ἁμ.
Neander (Leben Jesu, pp. 431, 432) has some excellent remarks on this man’s disease. Either it was the natural consequence of sinful indulgence, or by its means the feeling of sinfulness and guilt was more strongly aroused in him, and he recognized the misery of his disease as the punishment of his sins. At all events spiritual and bodily pain seem to have been connected and interchanged within him, and the former to have received accession of strength from the presence of the latter. Schleiermacher (on St. Luke, p. 80) supposes the haste of these bearers to have originated in the prospect of our Lord’s speedy departure thence; but, as Neander observes, we do not know enough of the paralytic’s own state to be able to say whether there may not have been some cause for it in the man himself.
ἀφέωνται] Winer remarks (§ 14. 3),—‘The old grammarians themselves were divided about this word some, as Eustathius, (Il. π. 590,) treat it as identical with ἀφῶνται, as in Homer ἀφέῃ for ἀφῇ: others, more correctly, take it for the preterite (= ἀφεῖνται), e.g. Herodian, the Etymologicon, and Suidas, with this difference however, that Suidas believes it to be a Doric, the author of the Etym. an Attic form; the former is certainly right, and this perfect-passive form is cognate with the perf.-act. ἀφέωκα.’
4. ἰδών] By the spiritual power indwelling in Him. See John 2:24, John 2:25. No other interpretation of such passages is admissible. St. Mark’s expression, ἐπιγνοὺς τῷ πνεύματι αὐτοῦ, is more precise and conclusive. So we have ἐνεβριμήσατο τῷ πνεύματι, John 11:33, synonymous with ἐμβριμώμενος ἐν ἑαυτῷ, ibid. ver. 33.
ἴνα τί—supply γένηται: see Klotz on Devarius, pp. 631-2: so Plut. Apol. p. 26 c, ἵνα τί ταῦτα λέγεις; From τί γὰρ … οἶκόν σου is common (nearly verbatim) to the three Evangelists.
5. τί γάρ ἐστιν εὐκ.] “In our Lord’s argument it must be carefully noted, that He does not ask, which is easiest, to forgive sins, or to raise a sick man—for it could not be affirmed that that of forgiving was easier than this of healing—but, which is easiest, to claim this power or that, to say Thy sins be forgiven thee, or to say, Arise and walk? That (i.e. the former) is easiest, and I will now prove my right to say it, by saying with effect and with an outward consequence setting its seal to my truth, the harder word, Arise and walk. By doing that which is capable of being put to the proof, I will vindicate my right and power to do that which in its very nature is incapable of being proved. By these visible tides of God’s grace I will give you to know in what direction the great under-currents of His love are setting, and that both are obedient to My word. From this, which I will now do openly and before you all, you may conclude that it is ‘no robbery’ (Philippians 2:6, but see note there) upon my part to claim also the power of forgiving men their sins.” Trench on the Miracles, p. 206.
6. ὁ υἱ. τ. ἀνθ.] The Messiah: an expression regarded by the Jews as equivalent to ὁ χριστὸς ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ, ch. 26:63. See also John 5:27. “The Alexandrian Fathers, in their conflict with the Nestorians, made use of this passage in proof of the entire transference which there was of all the properties of Christ’s divine nature to His human; so that whatever one had, was so far common, that it might also be predicated of the other. It is quite true that had not the two natures been indissolubly knit together in a single Person, no such language could have been used; yet I should rather suppose that ‘Son of Man’ being the standing title whereby the Lord was well pleased to designate Himself, bringing out by it that He was at once one with humanity, and the crown of humanity, He does not so use it that the title is every where to be pressed, but at times simply as equivalent to Messiah.” Trench, p. 208.
ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς] Distinguished from ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ, as in ch. 16:19; 18:18. Bengel finely remarks, “Cœlestem ortum hic sermo sapit.” The Son of Man, as God manifest in man’s flesh, has on man’s earth that power, which in its fountain and essence belongs to God in heaven. And this not by delegation, but “because He (being God) is the Son of Man.” John 5:27.
τότε λέγει τῷ π. is not parenthetic, nor is ἵνα δὲ εἰδῆτε κ.τ.λ. an elliptic sentence; but the speech and narrative are intermixed. A simple construction would require either ἵνα δὲ εἰδῆτε.… ὧδε λέγω τῷ παρ …, or ἵνα δὲ εἰδῶσιν … τότε λέγει … We have, in the text, the first member of the former construction joined with the second of the latter.
8. τοῖς ἀνθρώποις] Not plur. for sing. ‘to a man,’ nor ‘for the benefit of men;’ but to mankind. They regarded this wonder-working as something by God granted to men—to mankind; and without supposing that they had before them the full meaning of their words, those words were true in the very highest sense. See John 17:8. In Mark they say, ὅτι οὕτως οὐδέποτε εἴδαμεν: in Luke, ὅτι εἴδομεν παράδοξα σήμερον.
9-17.] The calling of Matthew: the feast consequent on it: enquiry of John’s disciples respecting fasting:—and our Lord’s answer. Mark 2:13-22.Luke 5:27-39Luk_5:27-39. Our Lord was going out to the sea to teach, Mark, ver. 13. All three Evangelists connect this calling with the preceding miracle, and the subsequent entertainment. The real difficulty of the narrative is the question as to the identity of Matthew in the text, and Levi in Mark and Luke. I shall state the arguments on both sides. (1) There can be no question that the three narratives relate to the same event. They are identical almost verbatim; inserted between narratives indisputably relating the same occurrences. (2) The almost general consent of all ages has supposed the two persons the same.
On the other hand, (3) our Gospel makes not the slightest allusion to the name of Levi, either here, or in ch. 10:3, where we find Μαθθαῖος ὁ τελώνης among the Apostles, clearly identified with the subject of this narrative: whereas the other two Evangelists, having in this narrative spoken of Levi, in their enumerations of the Apostles (Mark 3:18: Luke 6:5), mention Matthew without any note of identification with the Levi called on this occasion. This is almost inexplicable, on the supposition of his having borne both names. (4) Early tradition separates the two persons. Clement of Alexandria, (Stromata, iv. 9 (73), p. 595 ,) quoting from Heracleon the Gnostic, (ὁ τῆς Οὐαλεντίνου σχολῆς δοκιμώτατος κατά λέξιν,) mentions Ματθαῖος, Φίλιππος, Θωμᾶς, Λευῒς καὶ ἄλλοι πολλοί, as eminent men who had not suffered martyrdom from a public confession of the faith. (5) Again, Origen, (against Celsus, book i. § 62, vol. i. p. 376,) when Celsus has called the Apostles τελώνας καὶ ναύτας, after acknowledging Μαθθαῖος ὁ τελώνης adds, ἔστω δὲ καὶ ὁ Λεβὴς τελώνης ἀκολουθήσας τῷ Ἰησοῦ. ἀλλʼ οὔτι γε τοῦ ἀριθμοῦ τῶν ἀποστόλων αὐτοῦ ἦν, εἰ μὴ κατά τινα τῶν ἀντιγράφων τοῦ κατὰ Μάρκον εὐαγγελίον. It is not quite clear from this, whether the copies of Mark substituted Levi’s (?) name for Matthew’s, or for some other: but most probably the latter. But Λεβής and Λευΐς are hardly more nearly allied than Λεβής and Λεββαῖος, with whom Levi has sometimes been supposed identical. Λεβὴν τὸν τελώνην may then have been the reading for Θαδδαῖον, Mark 3:18, where we now find the reading Λεββαῖον in lat-a b ff2 i. (6) It certainly would hence appear, as if there were in ancient times an idea that the two names belonged to distinct persons. But in the very passages where it is mentioned, a confusion is evident, which prevents us from drawing any certain conclusion able to withstand the general testimony to the contrary, arising from the prima facie view of the Gospel narrative. (7) It is probable enough that St. Matthew, in his own Gospel, would mention only his apostolic name, seeing that St. Mark and St. Luke also give him this name, when they speak of him as an Apostle. (8) It is remarkable, as an indication that St. Matthew’s frequently unprecise manner of narration did not proceed from want of information,—that in this case, when he of all men must have been best informed, his own account is the least precise of the three. (9) With regard to the narrative itself in the text, we may observe, that this solemn and peculiar call seems (see ch. 4:19, 22) hardly to belong to any but an Apostle; and that, as in the case of Peter, it here also implies a previous acquaintance and discipleship.
9.] λεγόμενον, not preceded by any other appellation, must not be pressed to any closer signification than that his name was Matthew. See ch. 2:23.
10.] We are told in Luke 5:29, that Levi made him a great feast in his house; and, similarly, Mark has ἐν τῇ οἰκ. αὐτοῦ. The narrative in our text is so closely identical with that in Mark, that it is impossible to suppose, with Greswell, that a different feast is intended. The arguments by which he supports his view are by no means weighty. From the words τῇ οἰκίᾳ, he infers that the house was not that of Matthew, but that in which our Lord usually dwelt, which he supposes to be intended in several other places. But surely the article might be used without any such significance, or designating any particular house,—as would be very likely if Matthew himself is here the narrator. (A similar mistake has been made in supposing τὸ πλοῖον, as in ver. 1, and elsewhere, to mean some one particular ship; whereas it is generic: see note there.) Again, Greswell presses to verbal accuracy the terms used in the accounts (e.g. συνανέκειντο and ἐλθόντες συνανέκειντο), and attempts to shew them to be inconsistent with one another. But surely the time is past for such dealing with the historic text of the Gospels; and, besides, he has overlooked a great inconsistency in his own explanation, viz., that of making in the second instance, according to him, Scribes and Pharisees present at the feast given by a Publican, and exclaiming against that which they themselves were doing. It was not at, but after the feast that the discourse in vv. 11-17 took place. And his whole inference, that δοχὴ μεγάλη must be the great meal in the day, and consequently in the evening, hangs on too slender a thread to need refutation. The real difficulty, insuperable to a Harmonist, is the connexion here of the raising of Jaeirus’s daughter with this feast: on which see below, ver. 18.
καὶ ἐγέν … καὶ ἰδ.] a Hebraism, see reff.; it occurs, but with the omission of ἰδού, in Mark’s account. The not very usual word, συνανέκειντο, is also common to the two. St. Mark, with his usual precision, adds ἦσαν γὰρ πολλοὶ καὶ ἠκολούθησαν αὐτῷ: a clause answering to ἐλθόντες in our text. See last note.
11. ἰδόντες] having observed this, see ver. 4. These Pharisees appear to have been the Pharisees of the place: Luke adds αὐτῶν: οἱ Φ. καὶ οἱ γραμ. αὐτῶν. The very circumstances related shew that this remonstrance cannot have taken place at the feast. The Pharisees say the words to the disciples: our Lord hears it. This denotes an occasion when our Lord and the disciples were present, but not surely intermixed with the ὄχλος τελωνῶν πολύς.
12. ἰσχύοντες.… κακῶς ἔχ.] Both words, in the application of the saying, must be understood subjectively (‘ironica concessio,’ Calvin, Meyer): as referring to their respective opinions of themselves; as also δικαιους and ἁμαρτωλούς, ver. 13:—not as though the Pharisees were objectively either ἰσχύοντες or δίκαιοι, however much objective truth κακῶς ἔχοντες and ἁμαρτωλοί may have had as applied to the publicans and sinners.
13.] πορευθέντες μάθετε answers to an expression frequent in the Talmud, צא ולמד.
ἔλεος θέλ.] The whole of this discourse, with the exception of the citation, is almost verbatim in Mark, and (with ὑγιαίνοντες = ἰσχύοντες, ἐλήλυθα = ἦλθον, and the addition of εἰς μετάνοιαν) Luke also.
14.] According to the detailed narrative of St. Mark (2:18) it was the disciples of John and of the Pharisees who asked this question. St. Luke continues the discourse as that of the former Pharisees and Scribes. This is one of those instances where the three accounts imply and confirm one another, and the hints incidentally dropped by one Evangelist form the prominent assertions of the other.
The fasting often of the disciples of John must not be understood as done in mourning for their master’s imprisonment, but as belonging to the asceticism which John, as a preacher of repentance, inculcated. On the fasts of the Pharisees, see Light-foot in loc.
15.] πενθεῖν = νηστεύειν Mark and Luke. The difference of these two words is curiously enough one of Greswell’s arguments for the non-identity of the narratives. Even if there were any force in such an argument, we might fairly set against it that ἀπαρθῇ is common to all three Evangelists, and occurs no where else in the N.T.
ὁ νυμφίος] This appellation of Himself had from our Lord peculiar appropriateness as addressed to the disciples of John. Their master had himself said (John 3:29) ὁ ἔχων τὴν νύμφην, νυμφίος ἐστίν· ὁ δὲ φίλος τοῦ νυμφίου ὁ ἑστηκὼς καὶ ἀκούων αὐτοῦ, χαρᾷ χαίρει διὰ τὴν φωνὴν τοῦ νυμφίου. αὕτη οὖν ἡ χαρὰ ἡ ἐμὴ πεπλήρωται.
Our Lord in calling Himself the Bridegroom, announces the fulfilment in Him of a whole cycle of O.T. prophecies and figures: very probably with immediate reference to Hos_2, that prophet having been cited just before: but also to many other passages, in which the Bride is the Church of God, the Bridegroom the God of Israel. See especially Isaiah 54:5-10 Heb. and E. V. As Stier (Reden Jesu, i. 320, edn. 2) observes, the article here must not be considered as merely introduced on account of the parable, as usual elsewhere, but the parable itself to have sprung out of the emphatic name, ὁ νυμφίος. The υἱοὶ τοῦ νυμφῶνος are more than the mere guests at the wedding: they are the bridegroom’s friends who go and fetch the bride.
ἐλεύσονται δὲ ἡμ.] How sublime and peaceful is this early announcement by our Lord of the bitter passage before Him! Compare the words of our Christian poet: ‘measuring with calm presage the infinite descent.’ (Wizenmann mag dabei wohl fragen:, Welcher Mensch hat je fo ruhig, so lieblich von einer solchen Hõhe in eine solche Jiefe geschaut?’ Stier, Reden Jesu, i. 322.)
ὅταν ἀπ.] when the Bridegroom shall have been taken from them: when His departure shall have taken place.
καὶ τότε ν.] These words are not a declaration of a duty, or of an ordinance, as binding on the Church in the days of her Lord’s absence: the whole spirit of what follows is against such a Supposition: but they declare, in accordance with the parallel word πενθεῖν, that in those days they shall have real occasion for fasting; sorrow enough; see John 16:20:—a fast of God’s own appointing in the solemn purpose of His will respecting them, not one of their own arbitrary laying on. This view is strikingly brought out in Luke, where the question is, Can ye ποιῆσαι νηστεύειν the children, &c., i.e. by your rites and ordinances? but, &c. and τότε νηστεύσουσιν: there is no constraint in this latter case: they shall (or better, they will) fast. And this furnishes us with an analogous rule for the fasting of the Christian life: that it should be the genuine offspring of inward and spiritual sorrow, of the sense of the absence of the Bridegroom in the soul,—not the forced and stated fasts of the old covenant, now passed away. It is an instructive circumstance that in the Reformed Churches, while those stated fasts which were retained at their first emergence from Popery are in practice universally disregarded even by their best and holiest sons,—nothing can be more affecting and genuine than the universal and solemn observance of any real occasion of fasting placed before them by God’s Providence. It is also remarkable how uniformly a strict attention to artificial and prescribed fasts accompanies a hankering after the hybrid ceremonial system of Rome.
Meyer remarks well that τότε refers to a definite point of time, not to the whole subsequent period.
16.] Our Lord in these two parables contrasts the old and the new, the legal and evangelic dispensations, with regard to the point on which He was questioned. The idea of the wedding seems to run through them: the preparation of the robe, the pouring of the new wine, are connected by this as their leading idea to one another and to the preceding verses.
The old system of prescribed fasts for fasting’s sake must not be patched with the new and sound piece; the complete and beautiful whole of Gospel light and liberty must not be engrafted as a mere addition on the worn out system of ceremonies. For the πλήρωμα αὐτοῦ, the completeness of it, the new patch, by its weight and its strength pulls away the neighbouring weak and loose threads by which it holds to the old garment, and a worse rent is made. Stier notices the prophetic import of this parable: in how sad a degree the χεῖρον σχίσμα γίνεται has been fulfilled in the history of the Church, by the attempts to patch the new, the Evangelic state, upon the old worn out ceremonial system. ‘Would,’ he adds, ‘that we could say in the interpretation, as in the parable, No man doeth this!’ The robe must be all new, all consistent: old things, old types, old ceremonies, old burdens, sacrifices, priests, sabbaths, and holy days, all are passed away: behold all things are become new.
χεῖρον σχ. γίν.] a worse rent takes place: not, as E. V., ‘the rent is made worse’ (χ. γίν. τὸ σχ.,—or χ. τὸ σχ. γίν.,) a worse rent, because the old, original rent was included within the circumference of the ἐπίβλημα, whereas this is outside it.
17.] This parable is not a repetition of the previous one, but a stronger and more exact setting forth of the truth in hand. As is frequently our Lord’s practice in His parables, He advances from the immediate subject to something more spiritual and higher, and takes occasion from answering a cavil, to preach the sublimest truths. The garment was something outward; this wine is poured in, is something inward, the spirit of the system. The former parable respected the outward freedom and simple truthfulness of the New Covenant; this regards its inner spirit, its pervading principle. And admirably does the parable describe the vanity of the attempt to keep the new wine in the ἀσκὸς παλαιός, the old ceremonial man, unrenewed in the spirit of his mind: ῥήγνυνται οἱ ἀσκοί: the new wine is something too living and strong for so weak a moral frame; it shatters the fair outside of ceremonial seeming; and ὁ οἶνος ἐκχεῖται, the spirit is lost, the man is neither a blameless Jew nor a faithful Christian; both are spoiled. And then the result: not merely the damaging, but the utter destruction of the vessel,—οἱ ἀσκοὶ ἀπολοῦνται.
According to some expositors, the new patch and new wine denote the fasting; the old garment and old bottles, the disciples. ὃ δὲ λέγει, τοιοῦτόν ἐστιν· οὔπω γεγόνασιν ἰσχυροὶ οἱ μαθηταί, ἀλλʼ ἔτι πολλῆς δἐονται συγκαταβάσεως· οὔπω διὰ τοῦ πνεύμτος ἀνεκαινίσθησαν. οὕτω δὲ διακειμένοις οὐ χρὴ βάρος ἐπιτιθέναι ἐπιταγμάτων. Chrysostom, Hom. in Matt. xxx. 4, p. 353. This view is stated and defended at some length by Neander, Leben Jesu, p. 346, note; but I own seems to me, as to De Wette, far-fetched. For how can fasting be called ἐπίβλημα ῥάκους ἀγνάφσυ, or how compared to new wine? And Neander himself, when he comes to explain the important addition in Luke (on which see Luke 5:39, and note), is obliged to change the meaning, and understand the new wine of the spirit of the Gospel. It was and is the custom in the East to carry their wine on a journey in leather bottles, generally of goats’ skin, sometimes of asses’ or camels’ skin. (Winer, Realwörterbuch, ‘Schlauch.’)
18-26.] Raising of Jaeirus’s daughter, and healing of a woman with an issue of blood. Mark 5:21-43.Luke 8:41-56Luk_8:41-56. In Luke and Mark this miracle follows immediately after the casting out of the devils at Gadara, and our Lord’s recrossing the lake to Capernaum; but without any precise note of time as here. He may well have been by the sea (as seems implied by Mark and Luke), when the foregoing conversation with the disciples of John and the Pharisees took place. The account in the text is the most concise of the three; both Mark and Luke, but especially the latter, giving many additional particulars. The miracle forms a very instructive point of comparison between the three Gospels.
18. ἄρχων] A ruler of the synagogue, named Jaeirus. In all except the connecting words, ταῦτα αὐτοῦ λαλοῦντος αὐτοῖς, and εἰσελθ., which seems to imply that our Lord was still in Levi’s house, the account in the text is summary, and deficient in particularity. I have therefore reserved full annotation for the account in Luke, which see throughout.
20.] The κράσπεδον, see ref. Num., was the fringe or tassel which the Jews were commanded to wear on each corner of their outer garment, as a sign that they were to be holy unto God. The article, as in ch. 14:36, designates the particular tassel which was touched.
22.] The cure was effected on her touching our Lord’s garment, Mark 5:27-29: Luke 8:44. And our Lord enquired who touched Him (Mark, Luke), for He perceived that virtue had gone out of Him (Luke). She, knowing what had been done to her, came fearing and trembling, and told Him all.
24.] No inference can be drawn from these words as to the fact of the maiden’s actual death; for our Lord uses equivalent words respecting Lazarus (John 11:11). And if it be answered that there He explains the sleep to mean death, we answer, that this explanation is only in consequence of the disciples misunderstanding his words. In both cases the words are most probably used with reference to the speedy awakening which was to follow, as Fritzsche (cited by Trench, Miracles, p. 183): ‘Puellam ne pro mortua habetote, sed dormire existimatote, quippe in vitam mox redituram.’ Luke appends, after κατ. αὐτ.,—εἰδότες ὅτι ἀπέθανεν, in which words there is at least no recognition by the Evangelist of a mere apparent death.
25.] ἐκρ. τῆς χ. αὐ. is common to the three Evangelists. From Luke we learn that our Lord said ἡ παῖς, ἔγειρε: from Mark we have the words He actually uttered, ταλιθὰ κοῦμ: from both we learn that our Lord only took with him Peter, James, and John, and the father and mother of the maiden,—that she was twelve years old,—and that our Lord commanded that something should be given her to eat. She was an only daughter, Luke 8:42.
27-31.] Healing of two blind men. Peculiar to Matthew.
27.] παρ. ἐκεῖθεν is too vague to be taken as a fixed note of sequence; for ἐκεῖθεν may mean the house of Jaeirus, or the town itself, or even that part of the country,—as ver. 26 has generalized the locality, and implied some pause of time.
υἱὸς Δαυείδ] εἰς τιμὴν αὐτοῦ τοῦτο κράζουσιν· ἐντιμοτάτη γὰρ παρʼ Ἰουδαίοις ἦν ἡ τοιαύτη προσηγορία. It is remarkable that, in all the three narratives of giving sight to the blind in this Gospel, the title Son of David appears.
28. τὴν οἰκίαν] εἰκός, πιστοῦ τινος εἶναι τὴν οἰκίαν, εἰς ἣν κατήχθη. Euthym. Or, the house which our Lord inhabited at Capernaum (De Wette and others); but I conceive that ἡ οἰκία need not mean any particular house, merely, as we sometimes use the expression, the house, as opposed to the open air: see note on ver. 1.
τοῦτο ποιῆσαι] i.e. the healing, implied in ἐλέησον ἡμᾶς.
υἱὸς Δ … κύριε] See Psalm 110:1, and ch. 22:45; also ch. 12:23; 20:30, 31.
29.] In this miracle however we have this peculiar feature, that no direct word of power passes from our Lord, but a relative concession, making that which was done a measure of the faith of the blind men: and from the result the degree of their faith appears. Stier remarks (Reden Jesu, i. 383), “We may already notice, in the history of this first period of our Lord’s ministry, that from having at first yielded immediately to the request for healing, He begins, by degrees, to prove and exercise the faith of the applicants.”
30. ἐνεβριμήθη] Suidas explains this word, μετὰ ἀπειλῆς ἐντέλλεσθαι, μετʼ αὐστηρότητος ἐπιτιμᾷν. The purpose of our Lord’s earnestness appears to have been twofold: (1) that He might not be so occupied and over-pressed with applications as to have neither time nor strength for the preaching of the Gospel: (2) to prevent the already-excited people from taking some public measure of recognition, and thus arousing the malice of the Pharisees before His hour was come.
No doubt the two men were guilty of an act of disobedience in thus breaking the Lord’s solemn injunction: for obedience is better than sacrifice; the humble observance of the word of the Lord, than the most laborious and wide-spread will-worship after man’s own mind and invention. Trench (Miracles, p. 197) well remarks, that the fact of almost all the Romish interpreters having applauded this act, is “very characteristic, and rests on very deep differences.”
32-34.] Healing of a dumb dæmoniac. Peculiar to Matthew. The word ἐξερχομένων, being a present participle, places this miracle in direct connexion with the foregoing. This narration has a singular affinity with that in ch. 12:22, or still more with its parallel in Luke 11:14. In both, the same expression of wonder follows; the same calumny of the Pharisees; only that in ch. 12 the dæmoniac is said (not in Luk_11) to have been likewise blind. These circumstances, coupled with the immediate connexion of this miracle with the cure of the blind men, and the mention of ‘the Son of David’ in both, have led some to suppose that the account in ch. 12 is a repetition, or slightly differing version of the account in our text, intermingled also with the preceding healing of the blind. But the supposition seems unnecessary,—as, the habit of the Pharisees once being to ascribe our Lord’s expulsion of devils to Beelzebub, the repetition of the remark would be natural:—and the other coincidences, though considerable, are not exact enough to warrant it.
This was a dumbness caused by dæmoniacal possession: for the difference between this and the natural infirmity of a deaf and dumb man, see Mark 7:31-37.
33. ἐφάνη οὕτως] viz. the casting out of devils:—‘never was seen to be followed by such results as those now manifested.’ See above. οὕτως is not for τοῦτο or τοιοῦτό τι (De Wette, &c.); the passages cited as bearing out this meaning in the LXX do not apply, for in all of them οὕτως is so. 1 Kings 23:17: Psalm 47:8: Judges 19:30 : Nehemiah 8:17.
35-38.] Our Lord’s compassion for the multitude. Peculiar to Matthew. In the same way as ch. 4:23-25 introduces the Sermon on the Mount, so do these verses the calling and commissioning of the Twelve. These general descriptions of our Lord’s going about and teaching at once remove all exactness of date from the occurrence which follows—as taking place at some time during the circuit and teaching just described. Both the Sermon on the Mount and this discourse are introduced and closed with these marks of indefiniteness as to time. This being the case, we must have recourse to the other Evangelists, by whose account it appears (as indeed may be implied in ch. 10:1), that the Apostles had been called to their distinct office some time before this. (See Mark 3:16: Luke 6:13.) After their calling, and selection, they probably remained with our Lord for some time before they were sent out upon their mission.
36. τοὺς ὄχλους] Wherever He went, in all the cities.
ἐσκυλμένοι] ‘Vexati,’—harassed,—plagued,—viz. literally, with weariness in following Him; or spiritually, with the tyranny of the Scribes and Pharisees, their φορτία βαρέα, ch. 23:4.
ἐριμμένοι] ‘Temere projecti,’ ‘abjecti,’ ‘neglecti,’ as sheep would be who had wandered from their pasture. The context shews that our Lord’s compassion was excited by their being without competent spiritual leaders and teachers.
37.] The harvest was primarily that of the Jewish people, the multitudes of whom before Him excited the Lord’s compassion. ὅρα πάλιν τὸ ἀκενόδοξον. ἵνα μὴ ἅπαντας πρὸς ἑαυτὸν ἐπισύρηται, ἐκπέμπει τοὺς μαθητάς. οὐ διὰ δὲ τοῦτο μόνον, ἀλλʼ ἵνα αὐτοὺς καὶ παιδεύσῃ, καθάπερ ἔν τινι παλαίστρᾳ τῇ Παλαιστίνῃ μελετήσαντας, οὕτω πρὸς τοὺς ἀγῶνας τῆς οἰκουμένης ἀποδύσασθαι. Chrysost. Hom. xxxii. 2, p. 367.
38.] … τίνος οὖν ἕνεκεν ἔλεγε ‘δεήθητε τοῦ κυρίου τοῦ θερισμοῦ, ἵνα ἐκβάλῃ ἐργάτας εἰς τὸν θερισμὸν αὐτοῦ,’ καὶ οὐδένα αὐτοῖς προσέθηκεν; ὅτι καὶ δώδεκα ὄντας πολλοὺς ἐποίησε λοιπόν, οὐχὶ τῷ ἀριθμῷ προσθείς, ἀλλὰ δύναμιν χαρισάμενος. εἶτα δεικνὺς ἡλίκον τὸ δῶρόν ἐστι, φησὶ ‘δεήθητε τοῦ κυρίου τοῦ θερισμοῦ·’ καὶ λανθανόντως ἑαυτὸν ἐμφαίνει τὸν τὸ κῦρος ἔχοντα. εἰπὼν γὰρ ‘δεήθητε τοῦ κυρίου τοῦ θερισμοῦ,’—οὐδὲν δεηθέντων αὐτῶν, οὐδὲ εὐξαμένων, αὐτὸς αὐτοὺς εὐθὺς χειροτονεῖ, ἀναμιμνήσκων αὐτοὺς καὶ τῶν Ἰωάννου ῥημάτων, καὶ τῆς ἅλω, καὶ τοῦ λικμῶντος, καὶ τοῦ ἀχύρον, καὶ τοῦ σίτον. ὅθεν δῆλον ὅτι αὐτός ἐστιν ὁ γεωργός, αὐτὸς ὁ τοῦ θερισμοῦ κύριος, αὐτὸς ὁ τῶν προφητῶν δεσπότης. Chrysost. Hom. xxxii. 2, 3, p. 367.