This people draws near to me with their mouth, and honors me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)This people draweth nigh unto me.—The quotation is given substantially from the Greek version of Isaiah. We have already seen in Matthew 13:14 how the Pharisees were taught to see their own likeness in the language of the prophet. Now the mirror is held up once more, and they are seen to have been anticipated in that very substitution of human for divine ordinances for which our Lord reproves them.See Poole on "Matthew 15:9".
and honoureth me with their lips: they owned him to be their creator and preserver; they made their boast of him, and of their knowledge of him, as the one only living, and true God, and as the God of Israel; they brought their sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving, even the fruit of their lips, unto him, for their many peculiar mercies, privileges, and favours, as a nation, church, and people, and with much seeming sincerity and affection.
But their heart is far from me; they had no true love to God, nor faith in him, nor fear of him; they were not at all concerned for his presence with them, or for communion with him, or for his honour and glory; their hearts were in the world, and after their covetousness; they made religion a tool to their secular purposes, supposing gain to be godliness; sought the applause of men, and contented themselves with bodily exercise; having no regard to internal religion, powerful godliness, or where their hearts were, so be it, their bodies were presented to God in public worship; and what they did it was to be seen and approved of men, not caring what the searcher of hearts knew concerning them, or what he required of them.This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Matthew 15:8. ἡ δὲ καρδία, etc.: at this point the citation is particularly apposite. They were far from the true God in their thoughts who imagined that He could be pleased with gifts made at the expense of filial piety. Christ’s God abhorred such homage, still more the hypocritical pretence of it.8, 9. Isaiah 29:13. The quotation does not follow precisely either the LXX. version or the Hebrew text.Matthew 15:8. Ὁ λαὸς οὗτος, κ.τ.λ., This people, etc.) In the S. V. of Isaiah 29:13, it stands thus, ἐγγίζει Μοι ὁ λαὸς οὗτος ἐν τῷ στόματι αὐτοῦ καὶ ἐν τοῖς χείλεσιν αὐτῶν τιμῶσί Με, ἡ δὲ καρδία—διδάσκοντες ἐντάλματα ἀνθρώπων καὶ διδασκαλίας,—This people draweth nigh unto Me with their mouth, and they honour Me with their lips: but their heart—teaching precepts and doctrines of men.—οὗτος, this) The pronoun here implies contempt; see 1 Corinthians 14:21.—Με, Me) sc. God, speaking by the mouth of Isaiah.—καρδία, heart) by the approach of which (cujus accessu) God is truly and fully worshipped.
 i.e. by the drawing nigh of which, as well as with the lips.—ED.
 Most stress is indeed made to rest on the heart. See Matthew 15:19.—V. g.Verse 8. - The quotation is from the Septuagint Version, with a slight variation from the text at the end. The Hebrew also differs a little; but the general meaning is not affected. With their mouth. They use the prescribed forms of worship, guard with much care the letter of Scripture, observe its legal and ceremonial enactments, are strict in the practice of all outward formalities. But their heart. This is what the prophets so constantly object. Prayers, sacrifices, etc., are altogether unacceptable unless inspired by inward devotion, and accompanied by purity of heart.
Lit., holds off from me.
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