Matthew 9
Pulpit Commentary
And he entered into a ship, and passed over, and came into his own city.
Verses 1-8. - The paralytic forgiven and healed. Parallel passages: Mark 2:1-12; Luke 5:17-26. (For connexion of thought, cf. Matthew 8:18, note.) In the parallel passages this narrative follows our Matthew 8:1-4. Matthew's account is shorter, as usual. Verse 1. - And he entered into a ship; boat (Revised Version). So completely did he grant the request of the Gadarenes. Observe that this expression is not an original phrase of the writer of the First Gospel, but is a reminiscence of the source that he has just used (cf. Mark 5:18; Luke 8:37; in both of which it now forms part of the preceding narrative). And passed over; crossed over (Revised Version); διεπέρασεν, also in the source (cf. Mark 5:21). And came into his own city; i.e. Capernaum, where Mark says that the following miracle took place. The thought is that of John 1:11. Yet observe the contrast with Matthew 8:34. There "all the city" rejected him; here some of the leaders reject him, but the multitudes fear and glorify God (ver. 8).
And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.
Verse 2. - And, behold, they brought to him (προσέφερον αὐτῷ). Bengel's remark, "Offerebant - Tales oblationes factae sunt Salvatori plurimae, gratae," though very beautiful, is, from its undue insistence on the sacrificial use of προσφέρω, hardly exegesis. Matthew omits the difficulty that was experienced in bringing him to our Lord (see parallel passages), yet this alone accounts for the special commendation of their faith. A man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed. Probably a mat or quilt (ver. 6). Professor Marshall, in the Expositor for March, 1891, p. 215, has a most interesting note showing that the differences between "lying on a bed" (Matthew)and "carried by four" (Mark), and even "they sought to bring him in, and to place him before him" (Luke, who has already mentioned "on a bed" ), may be explained by being different translations of an original Aramaic sentence. And Jesus seeing their faith. Including that of the paralytic, who, as we may gather from the obedience he afterwards shows, had agreed to and had encouraged the special efforts of his bearers. Said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer (Θάρσει τέκνον). Son. So Mark, but Luke has "man" (ἄνθρωπε), which, though more usual in Greek (though still Hebraic, for ἀνέρ would have been in accordance with classical usage), is much more colourless. Τέκνον, as a term of address, is elsewhere in the New Testament used only where there is relationship physical (Matthew 21:28; Luke 2:48; Luke 15:31; even Luke 16:25) or moral, especially that of pupil and teacher (Mark 10:24; cf 1 Timothy 1:18; 2 Timothy 2:1). It therefore implies that there is both sympathy and much common ground between the speaker and him whom he addresses. It is the antithesis of Matthew 8:29 (cf. further, infra, ver. 22). Thus it here served affectionately to encourage the sufferer in soul and body, preparing him to receive the announcement following. Matthew emphasizes its purpose by prefixing θάρσει. Thy sins be; Revised Version, are; expressing clearly that the words are the statement of a fact, not merely the expression of a command. Forgiven thee; Revised Version omits "thee" (genuine in Luke), with manuscripts (ἀφίενταί σου αἱ ἁμαρτίαι). Matthew and Mark use the present of general statement, Luke the perfect (ἀφέωνται, Doric; Winer, 14:3. a), to express a past fact of permanent significance. Observe the order of the Lord's assurance, as recorded in the true text. Courage, sympathy, forgiveness, and, only after all else, recalling individual sins. As the assurance of forgiveness is delightful to the soul, so is it often helpful to the body. Hence possibly our Lord's method in this case, for the man "inter spem metumque dubius pendebat" (Wetstein). Compare for the conjunction of the two, James 5:15, and, as a still closer parallel to our passage, Talm. Bab., 'Nedarim,' 41a. "R. Hija bar Abba said, The sick doth not recover from his sickness until all his sins be forgiven him, for it is said, 'Who pardoneth all thy iniquities, who healeth all thy diseases.'" So also Qimbi (on Psalm 41:5, "Heal my soul, for I have sinned against thee" ): "He does not say, Heal my body," for it is his sins that are the cause of his sickness, but if God heal his soul from its sickness, viz. by making atonement for his sins, then his body is healed."
And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemeth.
Verse 3. - And certain of the scribes. From St. Luke's account (ver. 17) we learn that the miracle took place before a large assembly of "Pharisees and teachers of the Law, who had come out of every village of Galilee, and Judaea, and Jerusalem." 'Yet even among these there was a division (τινές). Said within themselves. So Mark, "reasoning in their hearts." This man (οῦτος). The word seems to convey a notion of contempt and of vindictive joy that they have caught him (cf. Mark, τί οῦτος οὕτως λαλεῖ; and perhaps Matthew 12:24). Blasphemeth (βλασφημεῖ). In its fullest meaning; through assumption of Divine authority (so also Matthew 26:65; John 10:33, 36). "No passage of the Old Testament affirms that the Messiah himself will forgive sins. Thus Jesus ascribes to himself what even the highest Old Testament prophecies of the Messianic time had reserved to God; e.g. Jeremiah 31:34; Isaiah 43:25" (Kubel). Observe that Mark lays more stress upon the process of their thoughts, Matthew and Luke on the conclusion at which they arrived, Luke also indicating that the supposed sin had many parts (λαλεῖ βλασφημίας) - they thought, "Every word he has uttered is blasphemy."
And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts?
Verse 4. - And Jesus knowing; εἰδώς (but Textus Receptus, with margin of Westcott and Hort, and of Revised Version, ἰδών, "seeing" ); parallel passages, ἐπιγνούς. The difference of form with agreement in sense points to varying translations of ידע (so Peshito, in each place). Perhaps the same cause may also account for the difference in the next words, ἐνθυμήσεις ἐνθυμεῖσθε, but in the parallel passages, διαλογίζονται, διαλογισμούς διαλογίζεσθε (cf. also ver. 8). (For similar instances of our Lord's knowledge, cf. Matthew 12:25; Luke 6:8; Luke 9:47John 2:25; cf. further, supra, Matthew 8:10, note.) Their thoughts, said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts? Evil (πονηρά). Does the plural point to stages in their reasoning? or is it merely used because he was addressing more than one person?
For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk?
Verse 5. - For. The expansion of his rebuke of their accusation, by his question and the command connected with it. Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee (Revised Version, are forgiven, omitting "thee"); or to say, Arise, and walk? The former, because the truth or otherwise of the latter is at once visible. Observe that the two alternatives cover the two realms of influence, the spiritual and the physical. Men will not believe profession in the former realm if it be unaccompanied by visible results in the latter.
But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house.
Verse 6. - But that ye may know. From his authority in the physical world they may have direct knowledge (εἰδῆτε) of his authority in the spiritual world. Observe that the claim is even in the so-called "Triple Tradition." That the Son of man hath power (better, authority, with Revised Version margin, and the American Committee) on earth to forgive sins (ὅτι ἐξουσίαν ἔχει ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς ἀφιέναι ἁμαρτίας). Observe

(1) that our Lord does not say "I," but "the Son of man" ;

(2) that the emphatic words in the sentence are "hath authority," and "on earth." It would therefore appear as though our Lord wished to call the attention of those present to a phrase which they already knew, but did not rightly understand. He seems to point them to Daniel 7:13, and reminding them that even there "one like unto a son of man" (cf. supra, Matthew 8:20, note) receives authority (ἡ ἐξουσία αὐτοῦ ἐξουσία αἰώνιος, ver. 14), tells them that this authority includes forgiving sins, and that this may be exercised not only in the future and in "the clouds of heaven," but now (ἔχει) and "on earth." Further, if, as seems likely,. the phrase was understood to symbolize the nation, he desired them to see in himself the great means whereby the nation should rise to its ideal. If, as is possible, though hardly probable, this saying of our Lord's is chronologically earlier than Matthew 8:20, and there,-fore the earliest occasion on which he used the phrase, the almost direct reference to Daniel 7:13 makes it the more interesting. (Then saith he to the sick of the palsy). The thought of the sentence is continued, but as he now turns directly to the sick man, its form is altered. Arise, take up. The Revised Version, retaining the wrong reading, ἐγερθείς, inserts "and." Thy bed (ver. 9, note), and go unto thine house. Thus avoiding publicity.
And he arose, and departed to his house.
Verse 7. - And he arose, and departed to his house. Three stages, rising, leaving the crowded court, home-coming. Healed in soul as in body, he is fully obedient.
But when the multitudes saw it, they marvelled, and glorified God, which had given such power unto men.
Verse 8. - But when the multitudes saw it, they marvelled; were afraid (Revised Version); ἐφοβήθησαν. A more solely physical effect than the ἐθαύμασαν of the Textus Receptus. (For a similar instance of fear at miraculous events, cf. Mark 5:15.) Resch's supposition ('Agrapha,' p. 62), that the difference of words here and in the parallel passages is due to various translations of the Aramaic, or rather of the Hebrew according to his theory, is in this case not improbable (cf. supra, ver. 4, and Introduction, p. 14.). And glorified God (cf Matthew 15:31), which had given such power (authority, as ver. 6) unto men (τοῖς ἀνθρώποις); i.e. the human race. Observe that though the phrase recalls ver. 6, there is here no mention of forgiving sins: the multitudes appear to have thought only of authority to perform the miracle; further, that although the multitudes seem to have heard Christ's words, they did not understand his expression to refer to Messiah.
And as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed him.

(1) The call of a publican to be a personal follower (ver. 9).

(2) His kindly treatment of publicans and sinners, and his apology for showing it (vers. 10-13).

(3) His care for the freedom of his disciples from ceremonial bondage (vers. 14-17). Observe in this section the signs of opposition

(1) from the high-Judaic party, on a question of moral defilement (ver. 11);

(2) from those who were professedly waiting for Messiah, on a question of ceremonial observance (ver. 14). Verse 9. - The call of Matthew. Parallel passages: Mark 2:13, 14; Luke 5:27, 28. All three evangelists connect this with the preceding miracle, but in the parallel passages the name is given as" Levi," St. Mark adding, "the son of Alphaeus." If the First Gospel were not written, in either Greek or Aramaic, by St. Matthew himself, but by a catechist of the Matthean cycle (vide Introduction, pp. 6, 17.), it is possible that "Levi," as found in the source, may have seemed to the catechist disrespectful, and that he altered it to the title by which he had been accustomed to hear his master called. If, on the other hand, and as seems more probable, this Gospel was written by St. Matthew, his preference for "Matthew" rather than "Levi" may be due to its meaning (vide Introduction, p. 21.). And as Jesus passed forth (Revised Version, by) from thence. Mark 2:13 says that our Lord went out along the seaside, where "the receipt of custom" (vide infra) would naturally be. He saw a man, named (Revised Version, called) Matthew (vide Introduction, p. 20.). In the Greek "a man" is closely joined to "sitting at the receipt of custom," the words Μαθθαῖον λεγόμενον appearing to be almost an afterthought. Not the name, but the man's occupation, was the important thing. Sitting. Still plying his irreligious trade. At the receipt of custom; at the place of toll (Revised Version). Perhaps a mere booth by the roadside for collecting the octroi-duty on food, etc., carried past. At the present day in Palestine" a booth of branches, or a more substantial hut, is erected at every entrance into the city or village, and there, both day and night, sits a man at ' the receipt of custom.' He taxes all the produce, piercing with a long, sharp iron rod the large camel-bags of wheat or cotton, in order to discover concealed copper wire, or other contraband" (Van Lennep, in Exell, in lot.). Schurer (1. 2. p, 67) shows that the customs raised at Capernaum in the time of Christ undoubtedly went, not into the imperial fiscus, but into the treasury of Herod Antipas. On the other band, in Judaea at that time the customs were raised in the interests of the imperial fiscus. (On "publicans" generally, see ch. 5:46, note; and for further details, Edersheim, 'Life,' 1. 515.) And he saith unto him, Follow me. No promise is given corresponding to that in ch. 4:19. And he arose, and followed him. Perhaps the day's work was just over, or he may have left some assistant there.
And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples.
Verses 10-13. - The feast with publicans and sinners, and Christ's apology. Parallel passages: Mark 2:15-17; Luke 5:29-32. All three evangelists give the essential features of the section, but Mark and Luke show more clearly that the feast was in the house of the new disciple, and Matthew alone gives the reference to Hosea. Verse 10. - And it came to pass, as Jesus (he, Revised Version) sat at meat; "Gr. reclined: and so always" (Revised Version margin); cf. ch. 26:20. In the house; Luke, "And Levi made him a great feast in his house." Whether or not this was the same as the τελώνιον, we have no means of knowing, but presumably it was not. Behold, many publicans (Matthew 5:46, note) and sinners. The second term seems to include all who openly impugned or neglected the Law. It is, therefore, sometimes used with special reference to Gentiles (Matthew 26:45; cf Galatians 2:15). Came and sat down with him (Revised Version, Jesus, emphatic) and his disciples.
And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?
Verse 11. - And when the Pharisees. Mentioned thus far only in Matthew 3:7 and Matthew 5:20. This is, therefore, the first time that Matthew speaks of them as coming into direct contact with Jesus. Although Mark (cf. Luke) says that the objection was raised by those among the Pharisees who were also scribes (οἱ γραμματεῖς τῶν Φαρισαίων), yet the difference of expression from that in ver. 3 must not be overlooked. There the fact that they were scribes, accustomed to weigh the statements of the Law about blasphemy, etc., was prominent in the mind of the narrator; here it is rather the fact that they were Pharisees, men who by their very name professed to hold aloof from those who neglected the Law. Saw it. They could freely come into the court of the house, and when there could both see and hear what was passing in the rooms that opened into it. They said; ἔλεγον: dieebaat (Vulgate); "were saying." Their eager talk is brought vividly before us. Unto his disciples. Probably these were nearer to the Pharisees than Jesus himself was, or perhaps the Pharisees thought it easier to attack Jesus through them. On the naturalness of this remark in the mouth of Pharisees, vide Schurer, II. 2. p. 25. Why eateth your Master (διδάσκαλος); Teacher (Revised Version margin) is preferable, for both Pharisees and disciples realized that even Jesus' actions were intended to instruct his followers. But the reason for this action (why, cf. also ver. 14) they did not understand. It is possible that the order of the Greek points to irony on the part of the Pharisees. The man who presumes to be called Teacher, and whom the disciples accept as such, sets at defiance the primary rules of right and wrong. Professor Marshall (Expositor, IV. 4. p. 222) explains the variants "teacher" (here) and "drink" (parallel passages) by the original Aramaic word for "drink" (רוא) having been written here with the peculiar spelling of the Samaritan Targum (רבא). With (the, Revised Version) publicans and sinners? Who form but one class (τῶν τελωνῶν καὶ ἁμαρτωλῶν). (For the thought, cf. Matthew 11:19; Luke 15:2; also Psalm 101:5 [LXX.].
But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.
Verse 12. - But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole. Οἱ ἰσχύοντες (so also Mark) may include an arriere-pensee of moral self-assertion which St. Luke entirely loses by his alteration to οἱ ὑγιαίνοντες: cf. 1 Corinthians 4:10. Need not; have no need of (Revised Version). These are the emphatic words in the sentence. Christ takes the Pharisees at their own estimate of themselves, and, without entering into the question of whether this was right or wrong, shows them that on their own showing he would be useless to them. A physician, but they that are sick. "Sed ubi dolores sunt, air, illic festinat medicns," Ephr. Syr., in his exposition of Tatian's 'Diatess.' (Resch, 'Agrapha,' p. 443).
But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
Verse 13. - The first half of the verse comes in Matthew only. But go ye and learn. A common rabbinic phrase based on the fact that the disputants would not always have the cumbrous rolls of Scripture actually with them. These Pharisees pro-reseed to be students of Scripture, but had not yet learned the principle taught in this passage. What that meaneth, I will have (I desire, Revised Version) mercy, and not sacrifice. Mercy (ἔλεος). In the original connexion of this quotation (Hosea 6:6) the words are without doubt (but cf. Dr. Taylor's 'Gospel in the Law,' p. 10) an expression of God's desire that his people should show mercy rather than only perform external sacrifices, and this meaning is probably intended by our Lord here also. The connexion will then be either

(1) "I wish you to show mercy rather than perform external actions, for only thus will you resemble me in my coming to call sinners;" or

(2) "I wish you to show this mercy, and therefore I practise it myself." The former seems the more natural. It is, however, possible that our Lord disregards the original context of the words, and uses them only as a summary of an important truth, that God prefers to show mercy rather than to insist on sacrifice. This would make excellent sense here, viz. "Learn the true principle by which God acts, free grace, for it is on this that I have acted in coming to call sinners." (So nearly Dr. Taylor, op. cit., p. 3.) The sentence is quoted again in Matthew 12:7, where the original thought of the words seems more certainly applicable. For I am not come; for I came not (Revised Version). Christ refers to his historic coming in the Incarnation rather than to his abiding presence (cf. also Matthew 5:17). To call the righteous, but sinners (καλέσαι δικαίους ἀλλ ἁμαρτωλούς). The English generic article in the first term spoils the anarthrous expression of the Greek by lessening the contrast between the two classes. Dr. Taylor suggests the rendering, "not saints, but sinners" (op. cit., p. 4). To repentance. Omitted by the Revised Version and Westcott and Herr. From the parallel passage in Luke.
Then came to him the disciples of John, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not?
Verses 14-17. - Christ's care for the free-dora of his disciples from ceremonial bondage. He teaches that the standpoint of the Baptist was preparatory (ch. 3.), and was not intended to be a permanent resting-place. Observe that of the three accounts St. Matthew's points out the most clearly that the objection originated with the disciples of John the Baptist. Perhaps St. Matthew found these possessing special influence in the part for which his Gospel was primarily intended. So also St. John thought it desirable to recall the teaching of the Master, that while he himself was the Bridegroom, the Baptist was only subordinate (John 3:29). On the survival of the teaching of John the Baptist, and the greater importance of its professed adherents during the apostolic age than is usually supposed, vide Bishop Lightfoot, 'Colossians,' p. 163, edit. 1875. Verse 14. - Then (τότε). In this case the close chronological connexion with the preceding incident is confirmed by the parallel passages (especially Luke). Came (come, Revised Version) to him. They move forward among the crowd, and draw near to him (προσέρχονται αὐτῷ). The disciples of John (vide supra), saying, Why (cf. ver. 11) do we and the Pharisees fast? (cf. Matthew 6:16, note, Schurer, II. 2. p. 118). Oft (πολλά); Textus Receptus, and Westcott and Hort margin, with all the versions and the great mass of the authorities. Yet probably to be omitted, with Westcott and Host, on the evidence of the Vatican manuscript, and the original hand of the Sinaitic. It may have arisen from a gloss on the πυκνά of Luke. But thy disciples fast not. The feast given by St. Matthew was evidently at the time of some fast observed by the stricter Jews.
And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast.
Verse 15. - And Jesus said unto them, Can. It is a moral impossibility (ch. 6:24). The children (sons, Revised Version) of the bride-chamber (οἱ υἱοὶ τοῦ νυμφῶνος). Edersheim ('Life,' etc., 1:663) points out that these are not the shoshbenim, the friends of the bridegroom, who conducted the bride with music, etc., to the house of her parents-in-law, and to the bride-chamber, and who naturally remained to take part in the wedding feast; for

(1) the custom of having shoshbenim prevailed in Judaea, but not in Galilee;

(2) Talm. Jeremiah, 'Succah,' § 2:5, expressly distinguishes between the two terms: "Those who are shoshbenim, and all the sons of the bride-chamber, are free from the obligation of booths (חופה פטורין סן סוכה שושבינן וכל בני)." They appear to be those, invited by either party, who come to take part in the wedding festivities. They are, therefore, in full sympathy with bridegroom and bride, and, like them, cannot but rejoice. Mourn; parallel passages, "fast," but Matthew's word, as less closely connected with the cause of the objection raised, seems the more original. As long as the bridegroom is with them? Nosgen sees in this a claim to be the expected Bridegroom of Israel (Hosea 2:19, 20; Jeremiah 3:1-14; Ezekiel 16:8). But the days will come. Christ speaks with prophetic assurance of the coming of such a time (ἐλεύσονται δὲ ἡμέραι). Observe his consciousness alike of his position and of what is coming upon him. When the bridegroom shall be taken (away, Revised Version) from them. His removal shall be effected, not by his own action, but by external agents (ἀπαρθῇ). In these unsettled times, with their frequent though mostly unimportant popular risings, it cannot have been a very unusual thing for the bridegroom to be carried off, not indeed before the consummation of the marriage, but before the end of the week of festivities. And then shall (will, Revised Version; there is no trace of a command, Christ is but stating a fact) they fast. Christ here endorses the principle of Christian fasts (cf. Matthew 6:16), but regards them as springing; not from any legal obligation, but flora personal grief, in this case at his absence (cf. John 16:20). The only later passages in the New Testament where Christian fasting is mentioned, are Acts 13:2, 3; Acts 14:23; 2 Corinthians 6:5; 2 Corinthians 11:27. In the 'Didache,' § 8, we have the earliest formal recognition or' it as a practice. It is there forbidden to fast on the same days as the Pharisees. Observe that this verse was understood in Tertullian's time as expressly commanding a fast during the forty hours in which our Lord was in the grave ('De Jejun.,' § 2), and that, from Irenseus's expression in Eusebius ('Ch. Hist.,' 5:24), this fast had been kept almost from apostolic times.
No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse.
Verse 16. - No man; and no man (Revised Version); οὐδεὶς δέ. "And" is slightly adversative. They will indeed fast then, yet fasting does not belong to the essence of my teaching. To insist on fasting would only be right if my teaching came merely into mechanical connexion with the religion of the day. But this is not the case.

(1) Treated as an addition, it injures the religion of the day (ver. 16).

(2) Treated as something to be accepted by all Jews, regardless of their moral fitness for it, it is itself wasted, and also ruins those who so accept it (ver. 17). The verses thus

(1) answer the disciples of John the Baptist, that fasting must not be made compulsory for Christ's disciples; and

(2) warn them solemnly that they themselves must become morally fitted to receive Christ's teaching. No man; emphatic. Christ wants to show them the irrationality of what they want him to do - enjoin fasting on his disciples. Putteth a piece - patcheth a patch (ἐπιβάλλει ἐπίβλημα) - of new (undressed, Revised Version) cloth unto (upon, Revised Version) an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up (that which should fill it up, Revised Version; τὸ πλήρωμα αὐτοῦ) taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse (and a worse rent is made, Revised Version). My teaching is intended to be more than a patch (however good a patch) sewn on to the religion of the day.
Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved.
Verse 17. - Neither do men put new wine into old bottles; wine-skins (Revised Version); cf. Job 32:19. (For rabbinic comparisons of the Law to wine, cf. Dr. Taylor, 'Aboth,' 4:29.) Else (Matthew 6:1, note) the bottles (skins, Revised Version) burst. The stress is on "burst;" the thought is therefore not yet of the bottles, but of the fate of the wine. And the wine runneth out (is spilled, Revised Version; ἐκχεῖται), and the bottles (skins, Revised Version) perish. It ruins the vessels in which it is placed (ver. 16, note). But they put new wins into new; fresh (Revised Version); καινούς. The change from νέος of the wine to καινός of the skins is maintained in all three accounts, νέος suggesting the latest vintage, καινός that the skins are absolutely unimpaired (cf. Trench, 'Syn.,' § 60.). Bottles (wine-skins, Revised Version), and both are preserved.
While he spake these things unto them, behold, there came a certain ruler, and worshipped him, saying, My daughter is even now dead: but come and lay thy hand upon her, and she shall live.
Verses 18-34. ? 4. THE COMPLETENESS OF HIS HEALING POWER. (Cf. Matthew 8:1, note.)

(1) As regards restoration to life and life-strength generally (vers. 18-26).

(2) As regards the restoration of separate bodily powers (vers. 27-34):

(a) sight (vers. 27-31);

(b) speech, though, in this case, the dumbness was the work of an evil spirit (vers. 32 - 34).

Observe also in this section the reference to the effect of his work upon outsiders.

(1) The spread of the fame of his work and himself (vers. 26, 31).

(2) The wonder of the multitudes (ver. 33) [and the accusation of the Pharisees (ver. 34)]. Verses 18-26. - The raising of the daughter of a ruler (Jairus, in the parallel passages), and the healing of the woman with an issue. Parallel passages: Mark 5:21-43; Luke 8:40-56. Matthew's account is much the shortest. Verse 18. - While he spake these things unto them. Matthew only. All the accounts represent our Lord as teaching when Jairus came to him; but in the parallel passages he was on the seashore (equivalent to our Matthew 8:34; Matthew 9:1). Matthew alone places his coming just after the question of the Baptist's disciples. Probably the words, "while he spake these things unto them," are not in their original connexion. Behold, there came a certain; a (Revised Version); ἄρχων [εῖς] προσελθών (for εῖς, cf. Matthew 8:19, note). Ruler (ἄρχων). From this expression alone we should understand Jairus to have been head of the board of elders for the general affairs of the congregation; but Mark's expression, εῖς τῶν ἀρχισυναγώγων (cf. Luke, ἄρχων τῆς συναγωγῆς), compels us to regard him as that elder who was appointed to care specially for the public worship, Mark's language probably meaning that he was one of the class of those who held this appointment. Sometimes the offices of ἄρχων and ἀρχισυνάγωγος were held by the same person, and this may, perhaps, have been the case with Jairus (cf Schurer, II. it. p. 64). and worshipped him (Matthew 8:2, note). Saying, My daughter is even now dead. Matthew, by compression, indicates what had happened before the interview was over. But come and lay thy hand upon her; in sign of personal relation and life-communication. Kubel (in loc.) has an interesting note on the laying-on of hands in the New Testament (cf. also Bishop Westcott, on Hebrews 6:2). And she shall live.
And Jesus arose, and followed him, and so did his disciples.
Verse 19. - And Jesus arose, Matthew only. From the table, if Matthew's connexion is to be followed; from his seat by the seashore, if Mark's. And followed him. As he led the way to his house. The tense (ἠκολούθει) shows that our Lord had already started when the next incident took place. And so did his disciples. Mark substitutes "a great multitude," and adds that "they thronged him" (cf. also Luke).
And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment:
Verse 20. - (And, behold,... that hour). The Revised Version and the ordinary editions of the Authorized Version omit the brackets, as unnecessary. And, behold, a woman which was diseased with (who had, Revised Version) an issue of blood (αἱμοῥῤοοῦσα). Physically and (Leviticus 15:25) ceremonially unclean. Twelve years. The age of Jairus' daughter as recorded in the parallel passages. The coincidence led to its being remembered, and the number itself was the more noticeable as it seems to have symbolized the presence of God in nature (3 x 4). Came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment. Hem; border (Revised Version); τοῦ κρασπέδου: fimbriam (Vulgate). The zizith," tassels or fringes of hyacinth blue m-white Wool, which every Israelite, by reason of the prescription (Numbers 15:37, sqq.; Deuteronomy 22:12), had to wear at the four corners of his upper garment," Schurer (II. it. p. 112), who adds in a note, "The colour of the zizith is now white, while originally it was to be of hyacinth blue. The Mishna, Menachoth, 4:1, already presupposes that both are allowed. They are also not now worn, as the Pentateuch directs, and as was still the custom in the time of Christ, on the upper garment (טַלִּית ἱμάτιον), but on the two square woollen shawls, one of which is always worn on the body, while the other is only wound round the head during prayer Both these shawls are also called Tallith."
For she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole.
Verse 21. - For she said within herself, If I may; do (Revised Version). There is no thought of permission (ἐὰν μόνον ἅψωμαι). But touch his garment, I shall be whole; saved (Revised Version margin). The threefold σώζειν is suggestive. Observe that she is "saved" in spite of her superstition; God "pitieth the blind that would gladly see" (Hooker, 'Serm.,' 2. § 38).
But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour.
Verse 22 - But Jesus turned him about. The order of the words shows that the thought centres, not on the action, but on the Person. It marks the transition of the narrative from the woman to Christ. Further, "to understand the greatness of Jesus' love, consider how a Pharisee might have treated one ceremonially so unclean" (Kubel). And when he saw her. The parallel passages show that this was after his inquiry who it was, etc. He said, Daughter, be of good comfort; good cheer (Revised Version); Θάρσει θύγατερ. Daughter contains the same thought as "son" in ver. 2. St. Matthew alone, as there, expands its purpose by prefixing θάρει. Θυγατέρα δὲ αὐτὴν καλεῖ ἐπειδὴ ἡ πίστις αὐτῆς θυγατέρα αὐτὴν ἐποίησεν (Chrysostom, in loc.). Thy faith hath made thee whole; hath saved thee (Revised Version). It is possible that the additional words recorded in the parallel passages, "Go in peace," point to more than only physical restoration. And the woman was made whole (saved, Revised Version margin) from that hour.
And when Jesus came into the ruler's house, and saw the minstrels and the people making a noise,
Verse 23. - And. During the incident of the healing of the woman news had come (parallel passages) to the ruler that his daughter was actually dead, and that it was useless to trouble the Teacher any more. But man's extremity is ever Christ's opportunity. When Jesus came into the ruler's house. Accompanied by only Peter, James, and John (parallel passages), and the parents (Luke). And saw. Apparently from outside the room (cf. ver. 25). The minstrels; flute-players (Revised Version); τοὺς αὐλητάς. For musicians as mourners, cf. 2 Chronicles 35:25. The Mishna ('Kethub.,' 4:4: vide Lightfoot, 'Hor. Hebr.,' in loc.) says, "Even the poorest among the Israelites [his wife being dead] will afford her not less than two pipes, and one woman to make lamentation." And the people - a mere crowd (Revised Version); ὄχλος - making a noise; tumult (Revised Version). There was confusion as well as sound, as Mark indicates still more dearly.
He said unto them, Give place: for the maid is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn.
Verse 24. - He said unto them, Give place; withdraw (ἀναχωρεῖτε). This is no room for mourners (cf. Acts 9:40). For the maid; damsel (Revised Version). to assimilate this and ver. 25 to the other passages where κοράσιον is found. Is not dead, but sleepeth. Our Lord looks forward to the result of his coming. So also probably Acts 20:10. To take our Lord's words here as a literal statement of a present fact, meaning that she was only in a trance, is to contradict the words of the messenger (parallel passages), our next succeeding clause, and Luke's addition to it, "knowing that she was dead." And they laughed him to scorn. Bengel suggests that they were afraid of losing the payment for their work.
But when the people were put forth, he went in, and took her by the hand, and the maid arose.
Verse 25. - But when the people (crowd, Revised Version; cf. ver. 23) were put forth, he went in. Till they were cast out he would not enter. They with their hired sorrow would disturb the reverential feelings essential to the performance of such a miracle. And took her by the hand, and the maid (ver. 24, note) arose. Matthew omits all mention of Christ's words to her, but his ἠγέρθη is, perhaps, a reminiscence of the command ἔγειρε. Ver 26. - Matthew only. And the fame hereof (ἡ φήμη αὕτη) went abroad into all that land. Of no one miracle is this elsewhere affirmed. (For the fame of him generally, cf. ver. 31 and Matthew 4:24.) That land. Doubtless Northern Palestine. It marks the Jerusalem standpoint of the writer (Nosgen); vide Introduction, p. 19.
And the fame hereof went abroad into all that land.
And when Jesus departed thence, two blind men followed him, crying, and saying, Thou Son of David, have mercy on us.
Verses 27-31. - Two blind men restored to sight. Matthew only. (For the connexion, vide ver. 18, note.) Weiss (see Rushbrooke, p. 75, A; and 'Life,' 3:221) compares the incident at Jericho, ch. 20:29-34 (parallel passages: Mark 10:46-52; Luke 18:35-43). The points of similarity are:

(1) The number, two, but in the parallel passages only one;

(2) the expression that Jesus was passing by (ver. 27; Matthew 20:30);

(3) they cry out and say, "Have mercy on us, O Son of David;"

(4) our Lord, in his question, asks about what he should do;

(5) lays stress on their faith (Mark and Luke);

(6) and touches their eyes (Matthew 20:34).

The points of difference:

(1) The place, here in Galilee, there by Jericho;

(2) here in the house, there in the road, but even here they begin to address him in the road;

(3) no mention here that he stopped when addressed, as there (ch. 20:32);

(4) our Lord here asks about their faith, there about their wish.

(5) Observe also that both his charge, "See that no man know it" (ver. 30), and the statement that they spread abroad the fame of him, would be quite inconsistent with the late date of the miracle recorded in ch. 20. From a consideration of these details, the conclusion seems inevitable that we have, in fact, narratives of two distinct occurrences, but it is quite consistent with tiffs conclusion to suppose that during the oral transmission of the narratives a certain amount of assimilation took place. Upon this supposition, it further appears probable that, as the narrative in ch. 20. was the better known, for it was in the Petrine cycle, our narrative became assimilated to it rather than the reverse. On the other hand, the number recorded in ch. 20. (not Mark or Luke) looks much like an assimilation to that of our incident (cf. the notes on the section Matthew 8:28-34, ver. 31, and the section vers. 32-34). Verse 27.- And when Jesus departed thence. As he was passing along on his way thence, i.e. from the house of Jairus, if the context be pressed. It should be noticed that "thence" (ἐκεῖθεν) is found also in Mark 6:1, immediately after the healing of Jairus' daughter. There it refers to the neighbourhood generally. Possibly its presence in Matthew is ultimately due to his remembering it in the next succeeding section of the oral framework. Two blind men followed him, crying (out, Revised Version; κράζοντες, so also Matthew 20:30), and saying, Thou Son of David, have mercy on us. The Revised Version rightly reverses the order of the two last clauses; the stress is on their own needs, not on their faith in giving him such a title. The words are identical in Matthew 20:30. Thou Son of David. The thought has been brought out in the genealogy (Matthew 1:17), and our Lord lays stress upon it in Matthew 22:42, sqq. Observe that although the excited multitudes at Jerusalem shout out the title at the triumphal entry (Matthew 21:9; cf. also 15), yet the multitudes in Galilee only suggest the possibility of his having a right to it (Matthew 12:23), and the only persons who use it when directly addressing him are a heathen woman (Matthew 15:22), and three, or perhaps four, blind men (here and Matthew 20:30, 31). With the remembrance of what was promised to take place in Messianic days (Isaiah 35:5), the blind would be especially likely to accord him a Messianic title (cf. also Matthew 11:5, note). Have mercy (Matthew 5:9, note).
And when he was come into the house, the blind men came to him: and Jesus saith unto them, Believe ye that I am able to do this? They said unto him, Yea, Lord.
Verse 28. - And when he was come into the house. Where he would be undisturbed (cf. Matthew 13:36). On the later occasion (Matthew 20:32) Jesus stood still in the road. The blind men came to him. Close (προσῆλθαν αὐτῷ). And Jesus saith unto them, Believe ye that I am able to do this? They had professed faith in him, yet their after-conduct (ver. 31) shows that it was none too perfect. They said unto him, Yea, Lord. Said; say (Revised Version); λέγουσιν. The evangelist uses the more vivid present whenever he can. So in Matthew 20:33 (though not in the parallel passages).
Then touched he their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you.
Verse 29. - Then touched he their eyes. So also Matthew 20:34, showing his sympathy and helping their faith (Matthew 8:3); cf. also John 9:6, and supra, ver. 18, note. Saying, According to your faith (Matthew 8:13, note) be it (done, Revised Version; γενηθήτω) unto you.
And their eyes were opened; and Jesus straitly charged them, saying, See that no man know it.
Verse 30. - And their eyes were opened; and Jesus straitly charged them (ἐνεβριμήθη αὐτοῖς). The notion is of "coercion springing out of displeasure. The feeling is called out by something seen in another which moves to anger rather than to sorrow" (Bishop Westcott, on John 11:33). Saying, See that no man know it. Partly to avoid publicity for himself, partly for their own sake, for even the recital of the Lord's mercies towards us often becomes an occasion of spiritual harm, since it is apt to degenerate into "display" with its attendant evils.  ῾ημᾶς διδάσκει φεύγειν τὸ ἐπιδεικτικὸν ὡς αἴτιον τῶν κακῶν (Origen, in Cromer's 'Catena'). The other occasions (vide ch. 8:4, note) on which a similar command was given seem all to belong, with this, to the earlier part of his ministry.
But they, when they were departed, spread abroad his fame in all that country.
Verse 31. - But they, when they were departed; but they went forth and (Revised Version). The very moment that they left the house (cf, ver. 32) they disobeyed him. Observe that the phrases used in this verso are possibly due to a reminiscence of the similar phrases found in Mark 1:45 of the leper. Spread abroad his fame in all that country; land (Revised Version); ver. 26, note.
As they went out, behold, they brought to him a dumb man possessed with a devil.
Verses 32-34. - The demon cast out of the dumb man. The astonishment of the multitudes and their confession. [The accusation by the Pharisees.] The whole narrative greatly resembles the cure of the blind and dumb man possessed with a devil (Matthew 12:22-24; Luke 11:14, 15), as may be seen from the fact that the following words are common to both passages, the brackets indicating a want of exact correspondence in the original. "They brought to him one possessed with a devil, dumb, and the [dumb spake]. And the multitudes [said.]... But the Pharisees, He casteth out the devils by... the prince of the devils." One explanation is that the two narratives are taken kern different sources, but represent the same incident; another, that as in vers. 27-31, so also here, the narratives of two similar incidents have become assimilated. At any rate, in the case of ver. 34 there has probably been assimilation, and that since the writing of the Gospel. For:

(1) Ver. 34 is wanting in D, the Old Latin manuscripts a and k, Hilary and Juvencns, and is therefore rightly bracketed by Westcott and Hort as perhaps "a Western non-interpolation" (2. § 240).

(2) The verse seems to be hardly in complete accordance with the aim of the whole section, which ends much more suitably with the effect on the multitudes. In Matthew 12:24 the verse forms a climax (cf. Matthew 12:2, 10, 14). But here there has been no opposition mentioned since the very beginning of the chapter (for the disobedience of the blind men cannot be so called), so that the monstrous accusation comes in quite unexpectedly. Observe that this is not a case in which subjective difficulties are in themselves a prima facie argument for the genuineness of a phrase, for the early copyists troubled themselves very little about questions of the internal arrangement and the general aim of the sections. Verse 32. - (And, Revised Version) as they went out (forth, Revised Version; ver. 31). They were still on the threshold (αὐτὼν δὲ ἐξερχομένων). Behold, they brought to him. The rendering of the Revised Version, "there was brought to him," is awkward, but avoids the implication that the blind men brought him this fresh case. A dumb man possessed with a devil. In Matthew 12:22 the man was blind also.
And when the devil was cast out, the dumb spake: and the multitudes marvelled, saying, It was never so seen in Israel.
Verse 33. - And when the devil was cast out, the dumb spake: and the multitudes marvelled, saying, It was never so seen in Israel. In Matthew 12:23 they have advanced a stage further, and suggest that Jesus is Messiah (" the Son of David;" cf. supra, ver. 27).
But the Pharisees said, He casteth out devils through the prince of the devils.
Verse 34. - But the Pharisees said (vide supra). If the verse be genuine here, the thought, of course, is that the only effect of Christ's miracles upon the Pharisees was to drive them to open blasphemy and wanton opposition to the evidence of plain facts, as is brought out at length in Matthew 12:24-32. He casteth out devils through the prince of the devils; by the prince of the devils casteth he out devils (Revised Version); which indicates the true order of the words in the Greek. Through. The Revised Version margin, in, is more literal. The Pharisees assert not only that Jesus effected this cure by the instrumentality of Satan, but by means of union with him.
And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.
Verse 35. - Parallel passages: Mark 6:6 (Luke 13:22). And Jesus went about all the cities and (the, Revised Version) villages. The Revised Version rightly restricts the "all" to the cities (τὰς πόλεις πάσας καὶ τὰς κώμας). It would have been impossible to visit all the villages. A village was distinguished from a city by being

(1) unwalled (though occasionally towns were themselves unwalled);

(2) dependent on the cities (cf. Schurer, II. 1. p. 154, seq.). Teaching, etc. From this point the verse is identical with Matthew 4:23 (where see notes), except that the end of that verse, "among the people," is not found in the true text of our passage, but has been inserted thence. Its omission here and the alteration of the words," in all Galilee," to "all the cities and the villages," are both due to the wider scope of what follows. Observe that in Matthew 4:23 our Lord's circuit is the occasion of crowds resorting to him, and serves as an introduction to a full account of his personal teaching, while here it is the occasion of his sending representatives, and serves as an introduction to his commission to them. As to the phrase, "healing all manner of disease and all manner of sickness," notice that the recurrence of terminology (Matthew 4:23; Matthew 10:1) falls in with the oral theory, especially in its catechetical form (cf. 'Introduction,' p. 9.).
But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.
Verse 36. - But when he saw the multitudes. The substance of this verse is found in Mark 6:34 on the return of the apostles, equivalent to our Matthew 14:13, seq. (cf. supra). According to the context, the multitudes here spoken of are those of the various cities and villages through which he had passed. He was moved with compassion on (for, Revised Version) them (ἐσπλαγχνίσθη περὶ αὐτῶν). After the vivid Hebrew metaphor (Genesis 43:30), which the LXX. seldom ventured to translate literally, but which is common in the New Testament writings. Because they fainted. So the Received Text (ἐκλελυμένοι, cf. Matthew 15:32), but the Revised Version, with manuscripts, "were distressed" (ἐσκυλμένοι). Σκύλλω, which in the classics is equivalent, to

(1) "flay,"

(2) "mangle," is found only in the sense of

(3) "trouble or harass," in the New Testament (Mark 5:35 [parallel passage: Luke 8:49]; Luke 7:6). And were scattered abroad; Revised Version simply, and scattered. (For the thought, cf. Ezekiel 34:5; also Numbers 27:17; 2 Chronicles 18:16; and its parallel passage, 1 Kings 22:17.) The two participles express different aspects of their now normal and continuous state (η΅σαν ἐσκυλμένοι καὶ ἐριμμένοι). Yet the Authorized Version margin, "and lay down," is probably nearer the meaning of ἐριμμένοι here than the Authorized Version and Revised Version; cf. 1 Macc. 11:4 (" They showed him the temple of Dagon burnt... and the bodies cast out" ); Jeremiah 14:16 (" The people... shall be cast out in the streets of Jerusalem... and they shall have none to bury them" ), whine the thought is hardly "scattered," but "cast out and lying prostrate." So here the people are pictured as sheep harassed and prostrated by fatigue, etc.; cf. Vulgate, vexati et jacentes. As sheep having no shepherd; not having a shepherd (Revised Version); cf. the Old Testament passages just referred to.
Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few;
Verses 37, 38. - The utterance is given word for word (except one transposition) at the beginning of the address to the seventy in Luke 10:2. But while serving there as an introduction to the rest of the speech, the reason for it is so much more self-evident here that St. Matthew seems to have recorded it in its original connexion. Our Lord himself, feeling the shepherdless condition of the people, desires to call out the interest of his disciples in it. He wants them to realize both the need of the people and the possibility that lay before the workmen. Changing the metaphor, he bids them pray him, who alone has the right and power, to send more workmen to reap these fields. Verse 37. - Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest - of human souls (John 4:35-38). Truly. So also the Revised Version; too strong a rendering of μέν. Is plenteous (cf. Matthew 10:23; Bengel), but the labourers are few. Who besides himself? John the Baptist, some who had been healed, e.g. the Gadarene demoniac (Mark 5:20, possibly also the blind men of ver. 31), and perhaps a few unknown true believers. Not the twelve, for these are evidently distinguished, and only to be included under the labourers spoken of in the end of the next verse. If, however, the utterance was originally spoken to the seventy (vide supra), the reference would be to the twelve.
Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.
Verse 38. - Pray ye. Express it as your personal need (δεήθητε, here only in the New Testament outside the writings of St. Luke and St. Paul). Therefore. Since more workers are so greatly needed. The Lord of the harvest; cf. Clem. Romans, § 34, who illustrates the thought by a most interesting composite quotation of Isaiah 40:10 (Isaiah 62:11; Proverbs 24:12)and Revelation 22:12. That he will (omit with the Revised Version) send forth. (Ὅπως ἐκβάλῃ; ut ejieiat, Vulgate [Wordsworth and White], ut mittat, Vulgate [ordinary edition].) The verb suggests alike his constraining power and their separation from their previous position (cf. Matthew 7:4). Mr. J. A. Robinson's note, however, in the Cambridge 'Texts and Studies,' I. 3:124, shows that one must not lay much stress on the thought of constraint. Labourers into his harvest.

The Pulpit Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright © 2001, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2010 by BibleSoft, inc., Used by permission

Bible Hub
Matthew 8
Top of Page
Top of Page