Matthew 15:1 KJV Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying,
Guzik: Scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Jesus: Up to this point, most of Jesus’ ministry has been in the region of Galilee. Galilee was separate from Judea, where Jerusalem was. These scribes and Pharisees are an official delegation from Jerusalem, coming to investigate and assess the words and work of this man Jesus.
(Guzik: Having come from Jerusalem: This was another “official delegation” of religious leaders from Jerusalem, coming to evaluate the ministry of Jesus. We saw a previous delegation in Mar_3:22, and they pronounced a harsh, condemning judgment against Jesus. This delegation from Jerusalem has already made up their mind about Jesus. Now they are just trying to “pin” something on Him.
The concept of evaluating Jesus’ ministry was fine. In outward appearance, these men were protecting Israel from a potential false prophet or false messiah. But they way they actually evaluated Jesus was all wrong. First, they already made up their mind about Jesus. Second, they did not evaluate Jesus against the measure of God’s Word. The evaluated Him against the measure of their religious traditions. )
Matthew 15:2 KJV Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.
Guzik: They do not wash their hands when they eat bread: The matter in question has nothing to do with good hygiene. The religious officials are offended that the disciples do not observe the rigid, extensive ritual for washing before meals.
c. These ceremonial washings were commanded by tradition, not by Scripture. The religious leaders say as much when they refer to the tradition of the elders.
Mar 7:2 MKJV And when they saw some of His disciples eating loaves with unclean hands, that is with unwashed hands, they found fault.
Expositor’s:But the Pharisees had not been content even with the severe restrictions of the law. They had not regarded these as a fence for themselves against spiritual impurity, but as an elaborate and artificial substitute for love and trust. And therefore, as love and spiritual religion faded out of their hearts they were the more jealous and sensitive about the letter of the law. They “fenced” it with elaborate rules, and precautions against accidental transgressions, superstitiously dreading an involuntary infraction of its minutest details. Certain substances were unclean food. But who could tell whether some atom of such substance, blown about in the dust of summer, might adhere to the hand with which he ate, or the cups and pots whence his food was drawn? Moreover, the Gentile nations were unclean, and it was not possible to avoid all contact with them in the market-places, returning whence, therefore, every devout Jew was careful to wash himself, which washing, though certainly not an immersion, is here plainly called a baptism. Thus an elaborate system of ceremonial washing, not for cleansing, but as a religious precaution, had grown up among the Jews.
Meyer: The Pharisees laid great stress on ritual. They followed endless rules, both intricate and troublesome, as to ablutions and outward ceremonials. So long as their devotees were careful in the minor observances, they were permitted a wide license so far as the weightier matters of the Law were concerned. This is a natural tendency of the human heart. It is glad to be able to reduce its religious life to an outward and literal obedience, if only its thoughts may be unhampered. In the life of true holiness everything depends on the control of the thoughts. “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” With infinite wisdom the wise man said, “Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life,” and Jesus put “evil-thoughts” first in the black category of the contents of the evil heart. A gang of thieves sometimes put a very small boy through a tiny window that he may unlock the front door. So one evil thought will often admit an entire crew of evil. Heart of mine, hast thou learned this lesson? Art thou careful enough of thy cleanliness? That the hands should be often washed, that vessels of household use should be kept cleansed, that there should be decorum and neatness in the outward life, all these customs are good. But it becomes thee to inquire whether thou art not more eager for the outward than the inward cleanliness. “Create in me a clean heart,” should be thy constant prayer.
Guzik: The hand-washing described here was purely ceremonial. It wasn’t enough to properly clean your hands if they were very dirty. You would have to first wash your hands to make them clean, then perform the ritual to make them spiritually clean. But why would they ever have such traditions?
ii. They even had an accompanying prayer to be said during the ritual washing: “Blessed be Thou, O Lord, King of the universe, who sanctified us by the laws and commanded us to wash the hands.” (Cited in Lane) (Guzik)
Matthew 15:3 KJV But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?
Guzik:Why do you also transgress the commandment of God: When the disciples were accused of sin, Jesus answered right back with another accusation. Why was Jesus so stern in His reply? Because these leaders were far too concerned with these ceremonial trivialities. When they declared people “unclean” because of their tradition, they denied the people access to God.
b. Because of your tradition: It’s important to see that the religious leaders demanded these ceremonial washings based on tradition, not the Scriptures.
Mar 7:3 MKJV For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they immerse their hands with the fist, holding the tradition of the elders.
Russell: Wash their hands — Consuming much time, and burdensome on the poor, who had no servants to do these things for them, and not doing them, were considered unclean. Had become an important part of the Jewish observance though nowhere found in the Law. It was the making of such formal washing a part of their religion that Jesus objected to.
Tradition of the elders — Jesus suited none of them. To the impure he was too pure; to those of hypocritical profession he was too sincere; to the worldly-wise he was too frank. Shaping their lives by the Talmud; so many Christians today, while recognizing the Bible have their own theory, proof-texts and catechism. The theories and opinions that had been formed and handed down from the past that were not based upon the inspired testimonies of the prophets. (Russell)
Guzik: holding the tradition of the elders: For these ceremonial washings, special stone vessels of water were kept, because ordinary water might be unclean. To wash your hands in a special way, you started by taking at least enough of this water to fill one and one-half egg shells. Then, you poured the water over your hands, starting at the fingers and running down towards your wrist. Then you cleansed each palm by rubbing the fist of the other hand into it. Then you poured water over your hands again, this time from the wrist towards the fingers.
i. A really strict Jew would do this not only before the meal, but also between each course.
ii. The rabbis were deadly serious about this. They said that bread eaten with unwashed hands was no better than excrement. One rabbi who once failed to perform the ritual washing was excommunicated. Another rabbi was imprisoned by the Romans, and he used his ration of water for ceremonial cleansing instead of drinking, nearly dying of thirst. He was regarded as a great hero for this sacrifice.
iii. If they were as concerned about cleansing their hearts as they were about their hands, they would be more godly men! We always want to think there is some ritual we can do to cleanse ourselves.
iv. It’s easy for us to think these religious leaders, or this whole religious culture was really stupid and phony for their emphasis on traditions like this. But we don’t realize how subtly these things emerge, and how spiritual they seem to be, especially in the beginning. Many rituals or traditions seem to be built on unshakable spiritual logic:
• Doesn’t God want us to honor Him in everything we do?
• Didn’t God command the priests to wash their hands before serving Him?
• Shouldn’t every faithful follower of God have the same devotion as a priest?
• Isn’t every meal sacred to God?
• Shouldn’t we take every opportunity to make ourselves pure before the Lord?
• Doesn’t God say, Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart (Psa_24:3-4)?
When the questions are put this way, it’s easy to say “Yes, yes, yes,” until you have agreed with the logic supporting the tradition. But if in the end you have a word of man, a tradition of man, a ritual of man, that has the same weight as the Word of God, you’re wrong. Your “spiritual logic” doesn’t matter. You’re wrong. (Guzik)
Do you have traditions like the Pharisees?
Do you look down on others who don’t keep your traditions?
Mar 7:4 MKJV And coming from the market, they do not eat without immersing, and there are many other things which they have received to hold, the dippings of cups and pots, and of copper vessels, and of tables.
Mar 7:5 MKJV Then the Pharisees and scribes asked Him, Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat loaves with unwashed hands?
Guzik: These washings were commanded by tradition, not by Scripture. The religious leaders knew this, yet they still criticized the disciples for not obeying these traditions.
i. In Judaism of that time, they honored the Scriptures – what we would call the Old Testament – as the written law. But there was also the oral law, which was written down, but was man’s tradition and interpretation on top of the written law. Many Jewish leaders of Jesus’ time honored the oral law even more than the written law.
ii. “Rabbi Eleazer said, ‘He who expounds the Scriptures in opposition to the tradition has no share in the world to come’ . . . The Mishna, a collection of Jewish traditions in the Talmud, records, ‘It is a greater offense to teach anything contrary to the voice of the Rabbis than to contradict Scripture itself.’“ (Wiersbe)
iii. “The Jews have several ordinary sayings, that show in what esteem they had these traditions, as If the scribes say our right hand is our left, and our left hand is our right, we are to believe them. And, There is more in the words of the scribes than the words of the law . . . The Jewish Rabbi Jose saith, He sinneth as much as who eateth with unwashen hands, as he that lieth with an harlot.” (Trapp)
iv. “There had grown up a great body of traditions; traditions which in the first place were intended to be interpretations of the law, and applications of the law to local circumstances; traditions which in the second place became interpretations of traditions, and applications of traditions; and the traditions in the third place, which were interpretations of interpretations of interpretations of traditions!” (Morgan)
v. What a person says never has the same authority as God’s Word. Even if they sincerely say it is from God, it never has the same authority as God’s Word. Even if everyone accepts it, it never has the same authority as God’s Word. Even if it makes perfect sense, it never has the same authority as God’s Word.
vi. “It was Jesus’ failure to support the validity of the oral law which made him an object of concerted attack by the scribes.” (Lane) (Guzik)
Matthew 15:4 KJV For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death.
Guzik: (Mat_15:4-6) An example of how their traditions dishonored God: the practice of not helping your parents with “devoted” goods.
Honor your father and mother: The clear command of God says that everyone should give honor to their father and mother. When we are adults, and no longer in our parent’s household or under their authority, we no longer have to obey our father and mother. But we do have to honor them.
Matthew 15:5 KJV But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me;
Guzik:Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God: The Jewish people of Jesus’ day had a way to get around the command to honor your father and mother. If they declared that all their possessions or savings were a gift to God, specially dedicated to Him, they could then say that their resources were unavailable to help his parents.
c. Through this, someone could completely disobey the command to honor his father or mother, and do it while being ultra-religious.
Matthew 15:6 KJV And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.
Mar 7:11 MKJV But you say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, Corban! (that is, A gift to God, whatever you may profit by me)
Mar 7:12 MKJV and you no longer allow him to do anything toward his father or mother,
Russell: Whatever profit you might have received from me is Corban: In this practice, a son could say that his possessions or savings were Corban – that is, specially devoted to God – and therefore unavailable to help his parents.
He shall be free — The commandment had been changed by the Talmud and any man might be free from honoring his parents by consecrating himself and substance to God and religious uses. (Russell)
Gill: This is the form of a vow, which a man having made on purpose, to free himself from the charge of the maintenance of his parents, when reduced, repeats unto them; or which he makes upon their application to him: various forms of this kind of vows, which see: this was not the form of an oath, or swearing by Corban, or the sacred treasury in the temple, mentioned in Mat_27:6, of which I do not remember any instance; nor was it a dedication of his substance to holy and religious uses; to the service of God and the temple; but it was a vow he made, that what he had, should be as Corban, as a gift devoted to sacred uses: that as that could not be appropriated to any other use, so his substance, after such a vow, could not be applied to the relief of his parents; though he was not obliged by it to give it for the use of the temple, but might keep it himself, or bestow it upon others. (Gill)
Do you find ways to get out of your obligations?
Matthew 15:7 KJV Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying,
Matthew 15:8 KJV This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.
Guzik: (Mat_15:7-9) Jesus condemns their hollow tradition as hypocrisy.
Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men: The quotation from Isaiah accurately describes the real problem with these religious leaders. They elevated man’s tradition to an equal level with God’s revealed word.
b. Honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me: We can appear to draw near to God, all the while having our heart far from Him. When we look at the lives of others, we are often seduced by mere appearance and image.
i. God is interested in the internal and the real. We are far more interested in the external and the image. Is your relationship with God just external and image?
Mar 7:6 MKJV But He answered and said to them, Well has Isaiah prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, “This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.
Guzik: Why was Jesus so stern in His reply? Because the leaders were far too concerned with trivial matters like ritual washing. When they focused on these trivial traditions, they excluded everyone who didn’t keep the traditions, and so they discouraged them from coming to God.
i. The Living Bible paraphrases Isaiah’s quote: These people speak very prettily about the Lord but they have no love for Him at all. Their worship is a farce, for they claim God commands the people to obey their petty rules.
b. This people honors Me with their lips: Yes, they honored God with their lips; but in fact, God said of them their heart is far from Me. It is possible to have the image of being religious or spiritual, but actually be far from God. This was exactly the case with these religious leaders.
i. This is the whole idea behind the word hypocrite. The word in the ancient Greek language referred to “an actor” or “someone who wears a mask.” The image they promote is more important to them than what they actually are.
ii. Would God say something similar to us?
• “They attend church, but their heart is far from Me”
• “They read their Bible, but their heart is far from Me”
• “They pray eloquently, but their heart is far from Me”
• “They contribute money, but their heart is far from Me”
• “They do ministry, but their heart is far from Me”
• “They love to sing, but their heart is far from Me”
• “They talk to others about Jesus, but their heart is far from Me” (Guzik)
Russell:With their lips — “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.” (Exo_20:7) “Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” (2Ti_2:19)
Heart is far from me — The Lord regards anything short of simple candor and honesty of heart with aversion.
Where is your heart?
Matthew 15:9 KJV But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
Mar 7:7 MKJV However, they worship Me in vain, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.”
Guzik: Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men: This is one of the pillars of legalism. Taking a commandment or opinion of men, and teaching or promoting it as a doctrine from God is what supports legalism. It gives man’s word the same weight as God’s word.
If I say, “In my opinion, you should no longer eat hamburgers from MacDonald’s” then you are free to say “That’s a nice opinion, now leave me alone.” But when someone says, “God says you should no longer eat hamburgers from MacDonald’s” then they make it seem like you are opposing God if you don’t do as they say.
Not everything in the Christian life is a matter of right and wrong. Some things – many things – are simply matters of personal conscience before God. The Scriptures do not command ritual washing before meals. If you want to do it, then fine. Do it unto the Lord, and without a sense of spiritual superiority before your brothers and sisters. If don’t want to do it, fine also. Don’t do it unto the Lord, and don’t look down upon those whose conscience compels them to do the ritual washing. (Guzik)
Matthew 15:10 KJV And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand:
Matthew 15:11 KJV Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.
Guzik: (Mat_15:10-11) Jesus speaks to the multitude about religious externalism.
Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man: Jesus states a fundamental principle. Washing with “unclean hands” or any other such thing that we “put into us” is not defiling. Rather, what comes out is what defiles, and it reveals that we have unclean (defiled) hearts.
b. This is not to say that there are not defiling things that we can take into ourselves (such as pornography). But in this specific context, Jesus spoke about ceremonial cleanliness in regard to food, and anticipated when all food was declared kosher (Act_10:15).
Mar 7:14 MKJV And calling near all the crowd, He said to them, Listen to Me, every one of you, and understand.
Mar 7:15 MKJV There is nothing from outside a man which entering into him can defile him. But the things which come out of him, those are the ones that defile the man.
Mar 7:16 MKJV If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.
Barclay: “Although it may not seem so now, this passage, when it was first spoken, was well-nigh the most revolutionary passage in the New Testament.”
Gill: but the things which come out of him; the Arabic: version reads, “out of the mouth of man”, as in Mat_15:11, for the things are, all sinful words which proceed from the imaginations and lusts of the heart; as all idle, unchaste, blasphemous, and wrathful words and expressions: and may include evil thoughts, words, and actions; which actions first in thought, take their rise from the corrupt heart of man; and in word, come out of the mouth; and in action, are performed by some one or other of the members of the body: these are
they that defile the man: his mind and conscience, the faculties of his soul, and the members of his body; and render him abominable in the sight of God, and expose him to his wrath and displeasure; See Gill on Mat_15:11. The sense of the whole is, that not what a man eats and drinks, and in whatsoever way he does either, though he may eat and drink with unwashen hands, or out of cups, pots, and platters, not properly washed, according to the traditions of the elders, renders him a polluted sinful man, in the sight of God; or such as one, whose company and conversation are to be, avoided by good men; but that it is sin in the heart, and what proceeds from it; as all evil thoughts, wicked words, and impure actions; which denominate a man filthy and unclean, and expose him to the abhorrence of God, and of his people…The Ethiopic version renders it, “it is not what enters from without into the mouth of man, which can defile him; but only what goes out of the heart man, this defiles the man”: the Persic version adds, “and is the sin of death”; or sin unto death, a deadly, mortal sin. (Gill)
What is in your heart?
Matthew 15:12 KJV Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying?
Guzik: (Mat_15:12-14) Jesus then warns His disciples that only what is of God and of truth will last and be secure.
Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying? It’s a humorous scene. The disciples came to Jesus, “Um, Jesus – did you know that you offended those guys?” Of course He knew that He offended them! He intended to offend them.
Clarke: The Pharisees were offended – None so liable to take offense as formalists and hypocrites, when you attempt to take away the false props from the one, and question the sincerity of the other. Besides, a Pharisee must never be suspected of ignorance, for they are the men, and wisdom must die with them!
Barnes:The Pharisees were offended – They were so zealous of their traditions that they could not endure that their absurdities should be exposed.
Matthew 15:13 KJV But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.
Russell: Hath not planted — The true Church, the New Creation, is of the Father’s planting. Our Lord says, “I am the Vine, ye are the branches.” (Joh_15:1-6)
Shall be rooted up — “And the angel thrust his sickle into the earth and gathered the vine of the earth.” (Rev_14:19)
Barnes: Every plant … – Religious doctrine is not inaptly compared to a plant. See 1Co_3:6-8. It is planted in the mind for the purpose of producing fruit in the life, or right conduct. Jesus here says that all those doctrines of which his Father was not the author must be rooted up or corrected. The false doctrines of the Pharisees, therefore, must be attacked, and it was no wonder if they were indignant. It could not be helped. It was his duty to attack them. He was not surprised that they were enraged; but, notwithstanding their opposition, their doctrine should be destroyed.
Benson: But he knew what he said, and to whom he said it, and what would be the effect of it; and he hereby teaches us, that though in indifferent things, we must be tender of giving offence, yet we must not, for fear of that, neglect to declare any truth, or enforce any duty. Truth must be owned, and duty must be done; and if any be offended, it is their own fault. Offence is not given, but taken.
But he said, Every plant — Or rather, plantation, as φυτεια is more properly rendered. As if he had said, Be they as angry as they will, you need not be afraid of them, for they and their doctrine shall perish together, being neither of them from God. Not only the corrupt opinions and superstitious practices of the Pharisees, but their sect, and way, and constitution were plants not of God’s planting: the rules of their profession were not his institutions, but owed their original to pride and formality. And the people of the Jews in general, though planted a noble vine, were now become the degenerate plant of a strange vine. God disowned them as not of his planting.
Clarke: Every plant – Every plantation. … This gives a different turn to the text. The Pharisees, as a religious body, were now a plantation of trees, which God did not plant, water, nor own: therefore, they should be rooted up, not left to wither and die, but the fellers, and those who root up, (the Roman armies), should come against and destroy them, and the Christian Church was to be planted in their place. Since the general dispersion of the Jews, this sect, I believe, has ceased to exist as a separate body, among the descendants of Jacob.
Matthew 15:14 KJV Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.
Guzik:Let them alone: Jesus did not organize a focused “Anti-Scribe and Pharisee” committee. He knew that their efforts would fail under the weight of its own legalism.
Barnes: Let them alone – That is, do not be troubled at their rage.
Be not anxious about it. This result is to be expected. They are greatly attached to their traditions, and you are not to wonder that they are indignant. They lead, also, the blind. They have a vast influence over the multitude, and it is to be expected that they will be enraged at any doctrines that go to lessen their authority or influence. By commanding them “to let them alone,” Christ does not mean that they were to be suffered to remain in error without any attempt to refute or correct them, for this he was doing then; but he meant to charge his disciples not to mind them or to regard their opposition – it was to be expected.
If the blind lead the blind … – This was a plain proposition. A blind man, attempting to conduct blind men, would fall into every ditch that was in the way. So with religious teachers. If these Pharisees, themselves ignorant and blind, should be suffered to lead the ignorant multitude, both would be destroyed. This was another reason for confuting their errors, or for rooting up the plants which God had not planted. He wished, by doing it, to save the deluded multitude.
God often suffers one man to lead many to ruin. A rich and profligate man, an infidel, a man of learning, a politician, or a teacher, is allowed to sweep multitudes to ruin. This is not unjust, for those who are led are not compelled to follow such people. They are free in choosing such leaders, and they are answerable for being led to ruin.
Clarke: Let them alone – Αφετε αυτους, give them up, or leave them. These words have been sadly misunderstood. Some have quoted them to prove that blind and deceitful teachers should not be pointed out to the people, nor the people warned against them; and that men should abide in the communion of a corrupt Church, because that Church had once been the Church of God, and in it they had been brought up; and to prove this they bring Scripture, for, in our present translation, the words are rendered, let them alone: but the whole connection of the place evidently proves that our blessed Lord meant, give them up, have no kind of religious connection with them, and the strong reason for which he immediately adds, because they are blind leaders. This passage does not at all mean that blind leaders should not be pointed out to the people, that they may avoid being deceived by them; for this our Lord does frequently, and warns his disciples, and the people in general, against all such false teachers as the scribes and Pharisees were; and though he bids men do that they heard those say, while they sat in the chair of Moses, yet he certainly meant no more than that they should be observant of the moral law when read to them out of the sacred book: yet neither does he tell them to do all these false teachers said; for he testifies in Mat_15:6, that they had put such false glosses on the law, that, if followed, would endanger the salvation of their souls. The Codex Bezae, for αφετε αυτους, has αφετε τους τυφλους, give up these blind men. Amen! A literal attention to these words of our Lord produced the Reformation.
Probably the words may be understood as a sort of proverbial expression for – Don’t mind them: pay no regard to them. – “They are altogether unworthy of notice.”
And if the blind lead the blind – This was so self-evident a case that an apter parallel could not be found – if the blind lead the blind, both must fall into the ditch. Alas, for the blind teachers, who not only destroy their own souls, but those also of their flocks! Like priest, like people. If the minister be ignorant, he cannot teach what he does not know; and the people cannot become wise unto salvation under such a ministry – he is ignorant and wicked, and they are profligate. They who even wish such God speed; are partakers of their evil deeds. But shall not the poor deceived people escape? No: both shall fall into the pit of perdition together; for they should have searched the Scriptures, and not trusted to the ignorant sayings of corrupt men, no matter of what sect or party. He who has the Bible in his hand, or within his reach, and can read it, has no excuse.
Russell: Let them alone — Corresponds to the command, “Come out of her my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins.” (Rev_18:4)
Blind leaders — These words, though applied by Jesus to the Jewish house, were also intended to apply to that of which it was a shadow, the Gospel house. Blinded by Satan who, by mixture of dishonoring falsehoods with their little truth, conceals the grandest elements of the divine nature.
Illustrated by the prophet in likening them to “blind watchmen” (Isa_56:10); not for lack of natural vision so necessary to watchmen, but of mental perception–“they are ignorant” of the character and purposes of God.
Both shall fall — While the most influential, who betray their trust as stewards, are the greatest sinners in Zion, those who blindly follow their leading become partakers of their sin (Rev_18:4) and share the same penalty.
Into the ditch — Into the ditch of general doubt and unbelief here, as their prototypes did in the trouble which closed the Jewish age. The pit (Diaglott).
Because Jesus was a “stone of stumbling and a rock of offense to both the houses of Israel” (Isa_8:14)–the fleshly and the spiritual house.
Matthew 15:15 KJV Then answered Peter and said unto him, Declare unto us this parable.
Matthew 15:16 KJV And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding?
Guzik: Explain this parable to us: In Mat_15:12-14 Jesus didn’t really speak in a parable. Yet because the disciples did not understand Him, they asked for an explanation, much like they did with the parables.
Barnes:Then answered Peter, and said unto him, Declare unto us this parable – The word “parable” sometimes means a dark or obscure saying, Psa_78:2. Peter meant, “Explain to us more fully this obscure and novel doctrine.” To us, now, it is plain; to the disciples, just coming out of Judaism, the doctrine of Jesus was obscure. Mark says that the disciples asked him. There is no contradiction. The question was put by Peter in the name of the disciples; or several of them put the question, though Matthew has mentioned only one. An omission is not a contradiction.
Are ye also yet without understanding? – Jesus appeals, in explaining this, to their common sense; and he wonders that they had not yet learned to judge the foolish traditions of the Jews by the decisions of common sense and by his own instructions.
Matthew 15:17 KJV Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught?
Barnes: Do ye not understand … – The meaning of this may be thus expressed: The food which is eaten does not affect the mind, and therefore cannot pollute it.
The doctrine of the Pharisees, that neglect of washing and of similar observances defiles a man, cannot be true. Those things pertain to the body as much as food does, and they cannot affect the soul. That must be purified by something else than external washing, and it is polluted by other things than a neglect of mere outward ceremonies. The seat of corruption is within – it is the heart itself; and if people would be made pure, this must be cleansed. If that is corrupt, the whole man is corrupt.
Matthew 15:18 KJV But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.
Guzik: Those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man: Jesus amplifies the point first made in Mat_15:11. We are defiled from the inside out rather than from the outside in, and this is particularly true of ceremonial things like foods.
Meyer: It is good to study our Lord’s list of the sources of soul-pollution. Evil thoughts come first. We cannot prevent an evil suggestion being presented to our minds, but we can refuse to dwell on it. To resist the inclination to dwell on it strengthens us in the opposite direction; to yield to it is to commit the sin in our heart, which, in God’s sight, is equivalent to the outward act. Notice that railing, that is, unkind and uncharitable speech, is in this black-list.
The heart, rather than the body, is the source of sin. Out of the heart! The body is the dial-plate on which the soul registers its improvement or deterioration. Do not find fault with your members: look to your heart and keep it beyond keeping, for out of it are the issues of life. Ask God to create in you a clean heart. See that you distinguish between the first Adam and the second. Deny what you inherit of human weakness and sin, and affirm all that is of Christ’s imparting. The cross of Calvary and the uprising of the living Christ are facts of perpetual experience.
Matthew 15:19 KJV For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:
Matthew 15:20 KJV These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.
Guzik: Evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications: This is a thirteen-part list that exposes the kind of evil that lives in the human heart. You don’t need to travel a long distance to find the source of these sins. You don’t need to conduct an exhaustive search. All you need to do is look at your own heart. “The source from which these rivers of pollution proceed is the natural heart of man. Sin is not a splash of mud upon man’s exterior, it is a filth generated within himself.” (Spurgeon)
- “I sicken as I think how man has plagued his fellow-men by his sins. But I will not go through the list, nor need I: the devil has preached upon this text this week, and few have been able to escape the horrible exposition.” (Spurgeon)
There’s a huge danger in looking at this list and saying, “I sure would never do this or that.” If we don’t see the capability of these kind of sins in us, then we are out of touch with the reality of our fallen nature.
Evil thoughts: “Every outward act of sin is preceded by an inward act of choice; therefore Jesus beings with the evil thought from which the evil action comes.” (Barclay)
“Thoughts are the eggs of words and actions, and within the thoughts lie compacted and condensed all the villainy of actual transgressions. If men did but more carefully watch their thoughts, they would not so readily fall into evil habits; but men first indulge the thought of evil, and then the imagination of evil; nor does the process stay there. Picturing it before their mind’s eye, they excite their own desires after it; these grow into a thirst and kindle into a passion.” (Spurgeon)
Are these things in your heart?
Are you trying to clean your heart?
Robertson:Evil thoughts (hoi dialogismoi hoi kakoi). These come out of the heart (ek tēs kardias), the inner man, and lead to the dreadful list here given like the crimes of a modern police court:
fornications (porneiai, usually of the unmarried),
adulteries (moichaiai, of the married),
thefts (klopai, stealings),
covetings (pleonexiai, craze for more and more),
murders (phonoi, growing out of the others often),
wickednesses (ponēriai, from ponos, toil, then drudge, bad like our knave, serving boy like German Knabe, and then criminal),
deceit (dolos, lure or snare with bait),
lasciviousness (aselgeia, unrestrained sex instinct),
evil eye (ophthalmos ponēros) or eye that works evil and that haunts one with its gloating stare,
railing (blasphēmia, blasphemy, hurtful speech),
pride (huperēphania, holding oneself above others, stuck up),
foolishness (aphrosunē, lack of sense), a fitting close to it all.
Are any of these in you?
Barclay: Blasphemy: “When this is used of words against man, it means slander; when it is used of words against God, it means blasphemy. It means insulting man or God.”
Guzik: This is a powerful reminder that what God first wants from us is our heart. We can only really be changed before God from the inside out. If the life and the power and the work of God isn’t real in our heart, then it isn’t real at all.
Macknight: Thus our Lord defended his disciples by a beautiful chain of reasoning, wherein he has shown the true nature of actions, and loaded with perpetual infamy the Jewish teachers and their brood, who in every age and country may be known by features exactly resembling their parents, the main strokes of which are, that by their frivolous superstitions they weaken, and sometimes destroy, the eternal and immutable rules of righteousness.” —
Can you grasp the dangers of “traditions of men”?
Guzik: c. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man: Unfortunately, the emphasis of the religious leader’s in Jesus’ day – and often our own – is purely on these external things, not the internal things that make for true righteousness.
i. Jesus’ words provide a well-needed balance in this day when so many Christians emphasize exercise and healthy eating. These things may be great in themselves, but are not a path to a closer standing with God.
Barnes: Christ proceeds to state what does defile the man, or render him a sinner:
1. “Evil thoughts” These are the first things – these are the fountains of all others. Thought precedes action. Thought, or purpose, or motive, gives its character to conduct. All evil thoughts are here intended. Though we labor to suppress them, yet they defile us. They leave pollution behind them.
2. “Murders.” Taking the life of others with malice. The malice has its seat in the heart, and the murder therefore proceeds from the heart, 1Jn_3:15.
3. “Adulteries, fornication.” See Mat_5:28.
4. “Thefts.” Theft is the taking and carrying away the goods of others without their knowledge or consent. Thefts are caused by coveting the property of others. They proceed, therefore, from the heart, and violate at the same time two commandments – the tenth commandment in thought and the eighth commandment in act.
5. “False witness.” Giving wrong testimony. Concealing the truth, or stating what we know to be false – a violation of the ninth commandment. It proceeds from a desire to injure others, to take away their character or property, or to do them injustice. It proceeds thus from the heart.
6. “Blasphemies.” See the notes at Mat_9:3. Blasphemy proceeds from opposition to God, hatred of his character Rom_8:7, and from a desire that there should be no God. It proceeds from the heart. See Psa_14:1. Mark adds several things to those enumerated by Matthew:
(a) “Covetousness.” The unlawful desire of what others possess, this always proceeds from the heart.
(b) “Wickedness.” The original here means malice, or a desire of injuring others, Rom_1:29.
(c) “Deceit,” i. e., fraud, concealment, cheating in trade. This proceeds from a desire to benefit ourselves by doing injustice to others, and this proceeds from the heart.
(d) Lasciviousness. Lust, obscenity, unbridled passion – a strong, evil desire of the heart.
(e) “An evil eye.” That is, an eye that is sour, malignant, proud; or an eye of lust and passion. See Mat_5:28; Mat_20:15; 2Pe_2:14, “Having eyes full of adultery, that cannot cease from sin.”
(f) “Pride.” An improper estimate of our own importance; thinking that we are of much more consequence than we really are. This is always the work of an evil heart.
(g) “Foolishness.” Not a lack of intellect – man is not to blame for that – but a moral folly, consisting in choosing evil ends and the bad means of gaining them; or, in other words, sin and wickedness. All sin is folly. It is foolish for a man to disobey God, and foolish for anyone to go to hell.
These are the things which defile a man – These are the true sources of pollution in man.
These are what corrupt and degrade. It is not the neglect of washing the body which defiles; it is the deep, inward corruption of the heart. And what a fountain of pollution is the human soul! What an array of crimes to proceed from the heart of man! What a proof of guilt! What strictness is there in the law of God! How universal is depravity!
Clarke: Out of the heart – In the heart of an unregenerate man, the principles and seeds of all sin are found. And iniquity is always conceived in the heart before it be spoken or acted. Is there any hope that a man can abstain from outward sin till his heart, that abominable fountain of corruption, be thoroughly cleansed? I trow not.
Evil thoughts – Διαλογισμοι πονηροι, wicked dialogues – for in all evil surmisings the heart holds a conversation, or dialogue, with itself. For φονοι, murders, two MSS. have φθονοι, envyings, and three others have both. Envy and murder are nearly allied: the former has often led to the latter.
Blasphemies – I have already observed, Mat_9:3, that the verb βλασφημεω, when applied to men, signifies to speak Injuriously of their persons, characters, etc., and, when applied to God, it means to speak Impiously of his nature, works, etc.
Russell: Let us see to it that this spirit of love, our spirit of friendship, proceeds, from the fountain of love itself; for God is love. Let us also have in mind the Apostle’s declaration that there are only two great sources: a sweet fountain cannot send forth bitter waters, nor a bitter fountain send forth sweet waters. (James 3:11.) Let us, therefore, settle it in our hearts that any spirit of treachery toward a friend, toward a brother, is not in any sense of the word connected with the spirit of love, but in opposition to it. Let us remember that a sweet fountain, a pure fountain, a love-fountain, cannot send forth bitter waters of hate, of malice, of envy, of strife. We must recognize such a stream of evil as coming from a different quarter, a different fountain, from the enemy of God and man. These qualities are therefore set forth in the Scriptures as works of the flesh and of the devil. Let us remember, too, that a radical change from an attitude of love and friendship to an attitude of bitterness and enmity is not an instantaneous but a gradual work. In the case of Judas we see a gradual deflection, which at first merely murmured because others had honors bestowed from the Lord; yet that spirit of murmuring increased, until within a week it took delight in betraying the Friend of all friends, who was even then laying down life on his behalf. Let us remember that by nature we have seeds of evil, of selfishness, received from the Adversary through heredity, through the fall; and that we need continually to be on guard to uproot all such roots of evil, and need continually to be cultivating the tender plant of love, that its fragrance may fill our entire lives and prepare us for association with him who is love and with him who is the friend above all others. R4223
“Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.”
If the promises of the Divine Word be not received into the heart to satisfy its cravings or longings, it will feed upon other things; and the world, the flesh and the devil are all crowding upon it, offering various attractions, some of which will be received if the heart be not filled and kept filled. No greater stimulus to true Godliness can be found than the precious promises given unto us. Our joy is largely dependent upon our study of the Word and our knowledge of the precious promises contained therein for those who overcome.
Matthew 15:21 KJV Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon.
Mar 7:24 MKJV And He arose from there and went into the borders of Tyre and Sidon. And He entered into a house and desired no one to know it. But He could not be hidden.
Guzik: Jesus traveled some 50 miles to the north to visit these Gentile cities (the region of Tyre and Sidon). This is unusual in Jesus’ ministry, because His focus was on the lost sheep of Israel (Mat_15:24).
- It also shows that Jesus did not obey the Jewish traditions that said a faithful Jew would have nothing to do with Gentiles, and would never enter a Gentile’s house.
- “The previous incident shows Jesus wiping out the distinction between clean and unclean foods. Can it be that here, in symbol, we have him wiping out the difference between clean and unclean people? Just as a Jew would never soil his lips with forbidden foods, so he would never soil his life by contact with the unclean Gentile.” (Barclay) This was “a concrete example of Jesus’ disregard for the scribal concept of defilement.” (Lane)
- Wanted no one to know it: At the same time, Jesus didn’t want to needlessly offend people. He knew that time for breaking down the wall between Jew and Gentile by bringing them into one body (the church) was still in the future. So while not keeping His presence in the region of Tyre and Sidon strictly secret, He did not want it publicized.
But He could not be hidden: It’s a glorious principle – Jesus cannot be hidden. Anytime Jesus is present at all, He finds a way to touch lives, because He cannot be hidden.
JFB:of Tyre and Sidon — the two great Phoenician seaports, but here denoting the territory generally, to the frontiers of which Jesus now came. But did Jesus actually enter this heathen territory? The whole narrative, we think, proceeds upon the supposition that He did. His immediate object seems to have been to avoid the wrath of the Pharisees at the withering exposure He had just made of their traditional religion.
and entered into an house, and would have no man know it — because He had not come there to minister to heathens. But though not “sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Mat_15:24), He hindered not the lost sheep of the vast Gentile world from coming to Him, nor put them away when they did come – as this incident was designed to show.
but he could not be hid — Christ’s fame had early spread from Galilee to this very region (Mar_3:8; Luk_6:17).
Russell:Then Jesus went — With the people discussing the wisdom of making him king, with Herod’s boldness manifested in the beheading of John, and with the realization that his time had not yet come, he left the parts where he was so well known.
Into the coasts of — Into parts of Galilee which bordered upon Tyre and Sidon. Not into the countries themselves, for they were Gentile countries. He was still in Israel, in Galilee, but over toward the border of Tyre and Sidon.
Tyre and Sidon — Within the boundary of the land called Phoenicia. Populated largely by Carthaginians and Syrians.
Gill:Then Jesus went thence,…. From the land of Gennesaret, after he had silenced the Pharisees, as to the charge brought by them against his disciples; and when he had reproved them for their hypocrisy and wickedness, in making void the commands of God by their traditions; and had explained some difficult and parabolical sayings he had made use of to his disciples, he then left that country, and departed very privately: either to shun the multitude, for the sake of retirement; or to avoid any snares the Scribes and Pharisees might be laying for him, who must be greatly galled with his free discourse, and strong arguments:
and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon; two principal cities of Phoenicia: not that he went into these places themselves, but into some places that bordered upon them; for as he ordered his disciples not to go in the way of the Gentiles, so neither did he himself.
Matthew 15:22 KJV And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.
Guzik:O Lord, Son of David! This Gentile woman also understands who Jesus is. Many of Jesus’ own countrymen didn’t know who Jesus was, but this woman of Canaan knew.
Mar 7:25 MKJV For a woman, whose young daughter had an unclean spirit, heard of Him and came and fell at His feet.
Russell: An unclean spirit — Possessed of an evil spirit, a demon–“obsessed.” So far as we have any knowledge, most of these fallen spirits, demons, are unclean, depraved, and their influence upon those possessed by them is an unclean, injurious one.
And came — Prompted by her love for her daughter and her confidence in Jesus.
Fell at his feet — After the custom of the East, so expressive of humility, dependence and entreaty.
Mar 7:26 MKJV The woman was a Greek, a Syro-phoenician by race. And she begged Him that He would cast the demon out of her daughter.
Our Lord desired to withdraw from the excited crowds who were flocking after Him as a mere miracle-worker and from the hostile espionage of emissaries of the Pharisees, ‘which had come from Jerusalem.’ Therefore He sought seclusion in heathen territory. He, too, knew the need of quiet, and felt the longing to plunge into privacy, to escape for a time from the pressure of admirers and of foes, and to go where no man knew Him. How near to us that brings Him! And how the remembrance of it helps to explain His demeanour to the Syrophcenician woman, so unlike His usual tone! Naturally the presence of Jesus leaked out, and perhaps the very effort to avoid notice attracted it. Rumour would have carried His name across the border, and the tidings of His being among them would stir hope in some hearts that felt the need of His help. Of such was this woman, whom Mark describes first, generally, as a ‘Greek’ (that is, a Gentile), and then particularly as ‘a Syrophcenician by race’; that is, one of that branch of the Phoenician race who inhabited maritime Syria, in contradistinction from the other branch inhabiting North-eastern Africa, Carthage, and its neighbourhood. Her deep need made her bold and persistent, as we learn in detail from Matthew, who is in this narrative more graphic than Mark. He tells us that she attacked Jesus in the way, and followed Him, pouring out her loud petitions, to the annoyance of the disciples. They thought that they were carrying out His wish for privacy in suggesting that it would be best to ‘send her away’ with her prayer granted, and so stop her ‘crying after us,’ which might raise a crowd, and defeat the wish. We owe to Matthew the further facts of the woman’s recognition of Jesus as ‘the Son of David,’ and of the strange ignoring of her cries, and of His answer to the disciples’ suggestion, in which He limited His mission to Israel, and so explained to them His silence to her. Mark omits all these points, and focuses all the light on the two things-Christ’s strange and apparently harsh refusal, and the woman’s answer, which won her cause. (MacLaren)—Matt. 15:21-28
Are you happy with the crumbs?
Matthew 15:23 KJV But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us.
Russell: But Jesus said — Matt. 15:23 says “he answered her not a word,” even implying that he left the house and the woman had to importune the disciples to intercede for her.
Benson:Came, and cried unto him — From afar; Have mercy on me, thou son of David — Consider my distressed case, and extend thy compassion to me, though a stranger. By addressing him as the son of David, she shows she had some knowledge of the promised Messiah, and that she believed Jesus to be that person. But he answered her not a word — He did not seem to regard her, intending that the greatness of her faith should be manifested: an end highly worthy of the wisdom of Jesus; because it not only justified his conduct in working a miracle for a heathen, but was a sharp rebuke to the Jews for their infidelity. Our Lord often tries the faith of his followers in a similar way. His disciples besought him, saying, Send her away — The disciples, being ignorant of our Lord’s design, were uneasy at the woman’s importunity, thinking, if she were permitted to follow them, that they would soon be discovered. Desiring, therefore, to get rid of her, they entreat their Master to dismiss her as he was wont to dismiss such petitioners, namely, with the grant of her request.
Matthew 15:24 KJV But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
Guzik:I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel: Jesus defined the focus of His mission of to this Gentile woman, and makes it clear that He was not sent to Gentiles like her.
Russell:I am not sent — To manifest God’s favor towards. Not because of narrowness on his part, nor because of insufficiency of time on God’s part, but because time and order have to do with every feature of God’s plan. The time had not yet come for giving Gentiles a place in God’s family as children of Abraham.
Unto the lost sheep — Those who have wandered from the Lord and were lost in the wilderness of sin and darkness. Individuals, not tribes.
The house of Israel — Until the full end of Israel’s 70th week of favor.
Gentiles and Samaritans were passed by. With a few exceptions, our Lord’s miracles were confined to the Jews. They alone were God’s covenanted people.
“You only have I known of all the families of the earth.” (Amo_3:2) A97
It was not until Israel had stumbled through unbelief and been rejected of God (Mat_23:37-38) that he authorized the preaching of the gospel to the Gentiles.
Gill:I am not sent, but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel; as a priest, or as a Saviour and Redeemer, he was sent to make satisfaction and atonement for the sins of all God’s elect, and to obtain eternal redemption and salvation for all of them, whether Jews or Gentiles; but as a prophet, in the discharge of his own personal ministry, he was sent by his Father only to the Jews; he was the “minister of the circumcision”, Rom_15:8 that is, a minister to the circumcised Jews; he was sent only to preach the Gospel to them, and work miracles among them, in proof of his Messiahship; and upon their rejection of him, then his apostles were to be sent among the Gentiles; but he himself was sent only to the Jews, here styled “the lost sheep of the house of Israel”: by “the house of Israel”, is meant the whole body of the Jewish nation, so called from Israel, the name of Jacob their father, from whom they sprung; and by the “lost sheep” of that house…
Matthew 15:25 KJV Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me.
Benson: But he answered, I am not sent — Not primarily; not yet; but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel — By the lost sheep of Israel we are to understand the whole nation of the Jews, who, being as sheep dispersed, and having no shepherd, are therefore called lost sheep. To them the Messiah was first promised; to them he came; and to them his personal ministry was to be almost wholly confined: and hence he is styled a minister of the circumcision, Rom_15:8.
Thus at the first Jesus seemed both to refuse this woman’s request, and the intercession of the disciples in her behalf. She, however, far from being discouraged by the repulse, drew near and worshipped him — That is, fell on her knees before him; saying, Lord, help me — Her necessity and distress were great, and she was unwilling to take a denial.
Russell:Then came she — The faith was there, hence the persistency of the request.
Lord help me — Her importunity, when she recognized the Lord as the only help. She left it entirely to the Lord’s wisdom how the help and mercy should be bestowed. Her daughter’s cause was her cause. However degraded and outcast from God’s favor, we may still know of the divine compassion.
Matthew 15:26 KJV But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs.
Guzik:It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs: When Jesus called her one of the little dogs, He used little as a term of endearment. This softened the traditional Jewish slur towards Gentiles, which called them dogs in the most derogatory sense.
Κυνάριον kunarion koo-nar’-ee-on
Neuter of a presumed derivative of G2965; a puppy: – dog.
Total KJV occurrences: 4
Bullinger:dogs = puppies, or little household dogs; this is true only of such. Dogs are not cared for (in the East) when grown. The Lord used the Figure of speech Hypocatastasis (App-6), implying that she was only a Gentile, and thus had still no claim even on that ground.
Mar 7:27 MKJV But Jesus said to her, Let the children first be filled. For it is not right to take the children’s loaves and to throw it to the dogs.
Jesus seems to discourage the woman, reminding her that the children (the Jewish people) get priority over the little dogs (Gentiles like her).
i. In that day, Jews often called Gentiles “dogs” in a very derogatory way. “The dog was not the well-loved guardian that it is to-day; more commonly it was the symbol of dishonour. To the Greek, the word dog meant a shameless and audacious woman; it was used exactly with the connotation that we use the word bitch to-day. To the Jews it was equally a term of contempt.” (Barclay)
ii. Yet Jesus did not use the normal word for “dogs.” Instead He softened it into little dogs – essentially, reminding the woman of her place as a Gentile, yet not wanting to push her completely away. “In Greek, diminutives are characteristically affectionate. Jesus took the sting out of the word.” (Barclay)
Russell: First be filled — Resisting her, not because he didn’t understand the case, but to draw out her faith, preparatory to the giving of the blessing desired. The Lord may also ignore our petitions to increase our faith and appreciation of the blessing we desire. He may make a test of humility before he responds to our requests.
Unto the dogs — The typically clean Jew called the outsiders “heathen” and “dogs,” and would never eat, marry, nor have any dealings with them. (Joh_4:9) The Gentiles, in comparison to the Jews, were as the dogs of the household.
Cast it to dogs — Customary Jewish phraseology respecting Gentiles, signifying their inferiority.
This did not signify that the Lord had no love for the remainder of mankind; their blessing would come in due time. Our Lord used the form of word which indicates the little pet dogs of the family.
The word here used by our Lord, and also by the woman, signifies house dogs or little dogs, pet dogs, and not the objectionable wild dogs of Rev_22:19. Not ferocious dogs, but house dogs–dogs which were friends and companions of the children.
Not an answer of disdain, contempt or indifference to her woe; but of interest and sympathy, explaining a reason why she was not a proper subject. Had there been pride in the heart, this response would have been sufficient to have put the woman upon her dignity and she would have openly tiraded against the Lord and all Jews as ecclesiastical bigots.
Are we humble enough to accept his mercy on his conditions, acknowledging ourselves nothing, that we have no merit to plead with him?
Matthew 15:27 KJV And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.
Guzik:Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table: The woman responds with great faith. She admits her low estate, and did not debate the issue when Jesus called her one of the little dogs. She asked Jesus to deal with her on her own low level – and so she received from Jesus. No wonder Jesus said,
O woman, great is your faith!
Matthew 15:28 KJV Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.
Benson: Then Jesus answered, O woman, great is thy faith — There were several other graces that shone bright in her; wisdom, humility, meekness, patience, perseverance in prayer, but these were the product of her faith, and therefore Christ particularly commends that: because of all graces faith honours Christ most, therefore of all graces Christ honours faith most. This woman’s faith was great indeed, considering that she had no promise to rely on, and had suffered so many repulses, joined with such seeming contempt, and yet still she retained a confidence in the mercy, kindness, and power of Jesus.
Be it unto thee even as thou wilt — Thy request is granted in all its extent.
And her daughter was made whole from that very hour — Thus the mother’s faith prevailed for the daughter’s cure, and the patient’s being at a distance was no hinderance to the efficacy of Christ’s word, He spake, and it was done. We learn two important lessons from the success which the suit of this Canaanitish woman met with: 1st, that God is no respecter of persons, but always accepts sincere faith and fervent prayer, proceeding from an humble, penitent heart. 2d, That it is our duty to continue in prayer with earnestness, although the answer thereof should be long deferred.
Mar 7:28 MKJV And she answered and said to Him, Yes, Lord, yet the dogs under the table eat of the children’s crumbs.
Mar 7:29 MKJV And He said to her, For this saying go, the demon has gone out of your daughter.
Guzik: The woman responds with great faith. First, she accepted her low place before Jesus by not debating the reference to little dogs. Second, she asked Jesus to deal with her on her own low level (even the little dogs under the table eat). She therefore received from Jesus.
i. We need to see the power of coming to God as we are, and letting Him make true His promises to those weak and unclean. If the woman had responded, “Who are you calling a dog?” she would not have received from Jesus what her daughter needed. Her humble, faith-filled submission to Jesus brought the victory.
ii. “Nothing appealed to our blessed Lord more than faith coupled with humility.” (Ironside) Some people come to God with a kind of faith, but without humility. Others come to God with a kind of humility, but without faith. But if the two are combined it is a powerful thing before God.
Russell: Yet the dogs — She was willing to confess herself one of the Gentile dogs, with no right to claim healing for her daughter, because not a Jew. With wonderful keenness and humility acknowledging that she was not one of the children who had a right to the Father’s blessing. So she, as a Gentile, might be granted her request, without saying that she was as worthy as a Jew of his mercy and favors. We, too, should persistently hold on to the Lord for the blessings we may be sure he will be pleased to grant in his own due time and way.
The children’s crumbs — That, as an outsider, she might be granted some of the Lord’s favors without in any degree working disadvantage to the Jews, to whom the Lord’s ministry was specially sent and given. In contrast, he has set before us “meat in due season” in great abundance. We need not importune for these; they are ours for the taking.
Is your faith as strong as this woman’s?
Mar 7:30 MKJV And when she had come to her house, she found the demon had gone out, and her daughter lay on the couch.
JFB: And when she was come to her house, she found the devil gone out, and her daughter laid upon the bed — But Matthew (Mat_15:28) is more specific; “And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.” The wonderfulness of this case in all its features has been felt in every age of the Church, and the balm it has administered, and will yet administer, to millions will be known only in that day that shall reveal the secrets of all hearts.
Russell: Come to her house — Showing her further faith, in accepting the Master’s word and going to her house. Many today hear the Lord’s word assuring them their sins are forgiven, yet Little Faith bids them doubt and keep on bemoaning their sins and requesting forgiveness.
Upon the bed — The demon was gone out and in leaving had thrown the child in a fit upon the bed.
PNT: And she went away to her house. This sketch of her return is peculiar to Mark. She had obeyed the command: ‘Go thy way.’—Laid, or, ‘thrown,’ upon the bed. Just as the demon left her, but in a quiet condition, which was the evidence that the demon had gone. The correct order favors this view. The exhaustion was natural, and a sign of complete dispossession.
Can you trust in the Lord?
Guzik: We read of nothing else that Jesus did during this time in Tyre and Sidon. His only divine appointment was to meet the need of this woman of faith and her sick daughter.
Matthew 15:29 KJV And Jesus departed from thence, and came nigh unto the sea of Galilee; and went up into a mountain, and sat down there.
Mar 7:31 MKJV And again, departing from the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, He came to the Sea of Galilee, in the midst of the borders of the Decapolis.
Russell: And again, departing — So far as the record goes, our Lord did nothing else in that quarter except for the poor Syrophenician woman.
Barnes: Decapolis – Mat_4:25. He did not go immediately into Capernaum, or any city where he was known, but into the retired regions around the Sea of Galilee. This was done to avoid the designs of the Pharisees, who sought his life.
Matthew 15:30 KJV And great multitudes came unto him, having with them those that were lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and many others, and cast them down at Jesus’ feet; and he healed them:
Matthew 15:31 KJV Insomuch that the multitude wondered, when they saw the dumb to speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to see: and they glorified the God of Israel.
Matthew 15:31 TPT And the crowds marveled with rapture and amazement, astounded over the things they were witnessing with their own eyes! The lame were walking, the mute were speaking, the crippled were made well, and the blind could see. For three days everyone celebrated the miracles as they exalted and praised the God of Israel!
Guzik:They laid them down at Jesus’ feet, and He healed them: We read nothing about any faith on the part of those who were healed, except for the fact that they did come to Jesus for help. Perhaps this is one of many occasions when Jesus ministered out of divine initiative, not in response to a faith-filled request (in contrast to the encounter with the Gentile woman in Tyre and Sidon).
b. The end result is the same: they glorified the God of Israel.
Gill: Insomuch that the multitude wondered,…. The multitude of the spectators, who, though they came in expectation of seeing miracles wrought, yet these were so much beyond what they could have imagined, that they were amazed and surprised to see cures so instantly performed, in such a miraculous manner: these were such glaring proofs and evidences of the wonderful power of God, that they were astonished
when they saw the dumb to speak; that is, such who before were dumb, now spoke; and the same is to be observed in the other following instances: some copies have also, “the deaf to hear”, and so the Arabic version: “the maimed to be whole”. … and a wonderful cure this was, that persons who had not only lost the use of their limbs, but such who had lost the limbs themselves, should have them restored perfect; for doubtless, the power of our Lord was able to do this, and which was amazing to behold:
the lame to walk, and the blind to see; as was prophesied of the times of the Messiah, and as things to be effected by him, Isa_35:5
and they glorified the God of Israel. The Ethiopic version adds, “which had given such power to the son of man”, or “unto men”, which seems to be taken out of Mat_9:8. This must be understood both of the multitude that saw these miraculous operations, and the persons on whom they were wrought; who were both affected with them, and gave God the praise and glory of them, by whose power alone such things could be done, who is the one only and true God: and therefore, to distinguish him from the fictitious deities of the Gentiles, he is here styled the God of Israel, of the people of Israel, so called from Jacob their ancestor, whose name was Israel; by whom God was known, and worshipped, and was their Covenant God, and Father.
Mar 7:32 MKJV And they brought a deaf one to Him, hardly speaking. And they begged Him to put His hand on him.
Barnes: They bring – That is, his friends brought, or the people brought.
One that was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech – Not entirely mute, but who spoke indistinctly or with difficulty. His deafness might not have been of long standing, and his speech, therefore, not entirely ruined.
To put his hand upon him – That is, to cure him. Blessings were commonly imparted by laying on the hands.
Guzik: They begged Him to put His hand on him: This is another example of intercession. The friends of this troubled man came and brought his need to Jesus.
Would you intercede for your friends?
Do you pray for your friends and family each night? (or just once in a great while?)
Mar 7:33 MKJV And He took him aside from the crowd and put His fingers into his ears. And He spat and touched his tongue.
Guzik: Jesus used a curious manner in healing this man. Why would Jesus use such an unusual way of healing?
Jesus used many different ways of healing. He healed with a word, healed without a word, healed in response to one’s faith, healed in response to the faith of another, healed those who asked, and He healed those He approached. Jesus didn’t want to be tied down to any “one method” to show that His power was not dependent on any method, but on the sovereign power of God.
Many people cared about this man, and perhaps many had prayed for his healing. But no one every stuck their fingers in his ears and spit on his tongue like this. Jesus did something completely new to catch this man’s attention, because He could not catch his attention with words. “Through touch and the use of spittle Jesus entered into the mental world of the man and gained his confidence.” (Lane)
Undoubtedly, Jesus knew there was something special in His manner that would minister to this man. “He adapts His method to the peculiar circumstances of need of the one with whom He is dealing. I am quite convinced if we could perfectly know these men we should discover the reason for the method. In each case Christ adapted Himself to the need of the man.” (Morgan)
Russell: Took him aside — Perhaps to impress upon him the lesson. A peculiarity in this miracle, that he healed him privately.
Put his fingers — These methods were used to attract the deaf man’s attention and assist his faith. As he could not hear, nothing said to him could explain the situation; he could see the spitting, feel the touch and thus understand what was going on. (Russell)
Do you try to deal with people where they are at?
Do you come to their level?
Mar 7:34 MKJV And looking up to Heaven, He sighed and said to him, Ephphatha! (that is, Be opened!)
Russell: Looking up to heaven — Giving the man a lesson that the power for his cure was expected from God. As indicating that the sympathy of heaven was moved for the man’s assistance.
He sighed — Indicating his deep sympathy with the man before him and with the groaning creation in general. “He was touched with a feeling of man’s infirmities.” (Heb_4:15) The fact that he was perfect did not make him cold and unsympathetic, rather the reverse. His perfect mind would make all his sensibilities more active than ours, his sympathy would be stronger, his sense of pain keener.
Wiersbe:He sighed: “The ‘sigh’ was an inward groan, our Lord’s compassionate response to the pain and sorrow sin has brought into the world. It was also a prayer to the Father on behalf of the handicapped man. (The same word is used in connection with prayer in Rom_8:23, and the noun in Rom_8:26).”
Do your actions give credit to God in heaven?
Mar 7:35 MKJV And instantly his ears were opened and the bond of his tongue was loosened, and he spoke plainly.
Guzik: Immediately his ears were opened, and the impediment of his tongue was loosed, and he spoke plainly: The ancient Greek word for impediment in his speech is mogilalon, and is only used here in the New Testament. It is a word that is also used once in the Septuagint translation of the Old Testament, in Isa_35:5-6 : Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb [mogilalon] sing. For waters shall burst forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert. Mark wants us to know that the Messiah is here, bringing the glorious benefits of His rule.
Mar 7:36 MKJV And He commanded them, that they should tell no one. But the more He commanded them, so much the more they proclaimed it.
Gill: And he charged them,…. The man that had his hearing and speech restored to him, and those that brought him, and as many as were witnesses of the miracle:
that they should tell no man; of the cure that was wrought, being not desirous of the applause of men; and knowing it would bring upon him the envy of the Scribes and Pharisees; and be a means of putting the common people upon setting him up as a temporal king, such as they expected the Messiah would be:
but the more he charged them, so much the more a great deal they published it; or “spake of him”, as the Ethiopic version reads it; for they looked upon his charge merely to proceed from modesty, and that made them the more forward to speak of his greatness and in his praise, to publish his mighty works, and spread the fame of his miracles far and near. So, such who have received the grace of God, are become acquainted with Christ, and have a real experience of divine things, cannot but speak of them; they are like new wine which hath no vent; and are ready to burst like new bottles; to forbear speaking is a pain, and weariness to them; nay, they think, should they hold their peace, the stones in the walls would cry out. Wherefore, partly for the glory of God, the magnifying of the riches of his grace, and the honour of Christ, and the blessed Spirit; and partly to show their own sense of things, the gratitude of their minds, and the thankfulness of their hearts, as well as for the use, comfort, edification, and instruction of others, they must speak, and cannot be silent, whatever restraints are laid upon them.
Does this describe you?
Mar 7:37 MKJV And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, He has done all things well. He makes both the deaf to hear and the dumb to speak.
Gill: saying, he hath done all things well; not by Beelzebub, the prince of devils, as said the Scribes and Pharisees; nor in any ostentatious manner, for the sake of the honour and applause of men, as they plainly saw; but for the good of mankind, and for the glory of God: and as all the miraculous works, which Christ did, were well done by him.
Russell: Done all things well — Not merely this one healing, but many. (Mat_15:29-31)
The deaf to hear — His mission was not to heal the sick, but “to give his life a ransom for all”; secondarily to call his footstep followers, and only incidentally, as an illustration of his kingdom, to do miracles and cures. It would have been a still greater work for Jesus to have expounded the divine plan and open the eyes of their understanding, but this was not possible at that time. Jesus said to his disciples, “Greater works than these shall ye do, because I go to my Father.” (Joh_14:12)
As new creatures we already have had our eyes opened, our ears unstopped and our tongues loosed, that we may speak of his goodness and love to others. (Russell)
In the kingdom “all the blind eyes shall be opened and all the deaf ears be unstopped.” (Isa_35:5)
Are your ears and mouths opened? Are you proclaiming the Lord like the ones here?
Matthew 15:32 KJV Then Jesus called his disciples unto him, and said, I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with me now three days, and have nothing to eat: and I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way.
Guzik:I do not want to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way: This miracle follows the same basic pattern as the feeding the 5,000, except that it reveals that the disciples were generally as slow to believe as we are (where could we get enough bread in the wilderness to fill such a great multitude?).
b. The disciples gave to the multitude: Jesus did what He only could do (the creative miracle) but left to the disciples what they could do (the distribution of the meal).
c. So they all ate and were filled, and they took up seven large baskets full of the fragments that were left: At the end of the meal, they gather more, not less. The seven large baskets show that God provided out of His abundance.
Gill:Then Jesus called his disciples unto him,…. Who were at some little distance from him, to impart his mind unto them, whom he had made, and used, as his familiar friends; and to try their faith, and raise their attention, and prepare them for the following miracle; as well as to teach them by his example, and accustom them to show bowels of mercy and compassion to persons in any kind of want and distress:
and said, I have compassion on the multitude; which must be understood of him as man, whose bowels yearned towards them, having been so long without any food for their bodies, or very little; as he had compassion on the sick, and diseased, and healed them, so on the sound and whole, and was willing to feed them. Christ, our high priest, is a merciful one, and is touched with the feeling of the infirmities of men, of every sort, both of soul and body:
because they continue now with me three days; which time had been spent in healing their bodily disorders, and in preaching to them for the good of their souls; which shows the diligence and indefatigableness of Christ, as well as the attachment of the people to him; who were so struck with his miracles and ministry, that though they had been so long from their habitations and families, knew not how to leave him; nor did they talk, or show any signs of departing from him, and returning to their houses, and business of life;
and have nothing to eat; not that they had been so long without eating anything, though very likely it was but little, and what they brought with them, and was now expended; nor could they provide themselves in a desert place, and many of them were a great way off from home:
and I will not send them away fasting; he might have done it, nor did the multitude ask any food of him; but he could not bear the thoughts of dismissing them in such a condition; having had but very little sustenance all this while, and so might be said to be in a manner fasting during this time, at least now:
lest they faint by the way; to their own houses, not having strength and spirit enough to travel, and get home: for “divers of them”, as Mark says, “came from far”.
Mar 8:1 MKJV In those days, the crowd being very great and having nothing to eat, Jesus called His disciples and said to them,
Mar 8:2 MKJV I have compassion on the crowd because they have now been with Me three days and have nothing to eat.
Clarke: Having nothing to eat – If they had brought any provisions with them, they were now entirely expended; and they stood in immediate need of a supply.
Gill: I have compassion on the multitude,…. Christ is a compassionate Saviour both of the bodies and souls of men: he had compassion on the souls of this multitude, and therefore had been teaching them sound doctrine and he had compassion on the bodies of many of them, and had healed them of their diseases; and his bowels yearned towards them all;
because, says he,
they have now been with me three days, and have nothing to eat; for if they brought any food with them, it was all spent, and they were in a wilderness, where nothing was to be got; where they had no house to go into, nor bed to lie upon, and no provisions to be bought; and in this case they had been two nights and three days; which showed great affection and zeal in these people, and a close attachment to Christ, in exposing themselves to all these difficulties and hardships, which they seemed to bear with much patience and unconcernedness. The Vulgate Latin, Syriac, Persic, and Ethiopic versions prefix the word “behold” to this clause, as expressing admiration at their stay with him so long in such a place. (Gill)
Mar 8:3 MKJV And if I send them away fasting to their own houses, they will faint in the way. For many of them come from afar.
Mar 8:4 MKJV And His disciples answered Him, From where can a man satisfy these with loaves here in the wilderness?
Guzik: How can one satisfy these people with bread here in the wilderness? We can imagine Jesus hoping one of the disciples might say, “Jesus, You did this before. You can do the same kind of work again.” Jesus hoped they would regard His past faithfulness as a promise to meet their present need.
It’s easy to criticize – or even mock – the disciples for their response. But when we see how patient Jesus is when we lack faith, or when we are simply dense in understanding, then we sympathize with the disciples.
How many times have you had to experience one of the Lord’s miracles before you got message?
Matthew 15:33 KJV And his disciples say unto him, Whence should we have so much bread in the wilderness, as to fill so great a multitude?
Popular:Whence should we have so many loaves. The question may seem strange after the miraculous feeding of the five thousand. But it was not so strange as their subsequent reasoning about the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees (chap. Mat_16:6-12). Our own forgetfulness and unbelief should make us wonder less at the ‘little faith’ of the disciples. In the previous case the disciples emphasized the amount of bread needed (‘two hundred pennyworth’); in this, the fact that they are in a desert place.
Matthew 15:34 KJV And Jesus saith unto them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven, and a few little fishes.
Gill:And Jesus saith unto them,…. In a very mild and gentle manner, taking no notice of their stupidity, nor upbraiding them with their forgetfulness of the late miracle, and willing to exercise their patience, and try their faith, asks,
how many loaves have ye? meaning in the common stock, and which they brought along with them, for their own supply:
and they said seven, and a few little fishes; which they mention as so small a provision, that it was as nothing for such multitudes; their loaves of bread were but seven, and their fishes, which were ready dressed, dried, or boiled, &c. were few in number, and small, as to quantity and size.
Matthew 15:35 KJV And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground.
Matthew 15:36 KJV And he took the seven loaves and the fishes, and gave thanks, and brake them, and gave to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.
Gill:And he took the seven loaves and the fishes,…. Into his hands, and lifted them up, that it might be seen, and observed, that there were no other food than these, that so the miracle might appear in its true light:
and gave thanks; to God for the provision, though it was so small, in the name of the whole company, according to the usage of the Jewish nation; who, if there were ten thousand (r), one for the rest used to say,
“let us bless the Lord our God, the God of Israel, the God of hosts, that sitteth between the cherubim:
teaching us to do so likewise, and to be thankful for, and content with our portion, be it more or less:
and brake them; which also was the custom of the master of the family to do:
and gave to his disciples: as a fresh trial of their faith, to reprove their unbelief, to put them in mind of the former miracle, and that they might be witnesses of this, and, in order to distribute to the people, which they accordingly did:
and the disciples to the multitude; in doing which they obeyed their master’s orders, though before they could not persuade themselves, that such a multitude of people could be filled with so small a quantity,
Matthew 15:37 KJV And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets full.
Gill:And they did all eat, and were filled,…. Every one had a share of the provision, and that to full satisfaction; no one was overlooked and neglected, and everyone had as much as he could eat:
and they took up of the broken meat that was left, seven baskets full. The disciples, after they had distributed to everyone his portion, went round, and collected the remaining fragments, and filled seven baskets therewith, according to the number of the loaves which were broken; and so had a full return for the loaves and fishes they spared on this occasion.
Mar 8:5 MKJV And He asked them, How many loaves do you have? And they said, Seven.
Mar 8:6 MKJV And He commanded the people to recline on the ground. And He took the seven loaves and gave thanks, and He broke and gave to His disciples to set before them. And they set them before the people.
Mar 8:7 MKJV And they had a few fish. And He blessed and commanded them to also serve these.
Mar 8:8 MKJV So they ate and were filled. And they took up over and above seven lunch baskets of fragments.
Mar 8:9 MKJV And they who had eaten were about four thousand. And He sent them away.
Benson: He commanded the people to sit down — The evangelists having, in the account of the former dinner, described the manner in which the multitude was set down, thought it needless on this occasion to say any thing of that particular, probably because they were ranged as before, in companies by hundreds and fifties. And he took the seven loaves, and gave thanks — He gave thanks for the fishes separately, and distributed them separately. So they did eat — Matthew, they did all eat, and were filled; were abundantly satisfied. And they took up of the broken meat, &c. — Which Jesus ordered them to gather up, that he might thus convince them, in the strongest manner, of the greatness of the miracle; and teach them also, at the same time, to use a prudent frugality in the midst of plenty. This miracle, and also the former of the same kind, recorded Mar_6:40, &c., were intended to demonstrate, that Christ was the true bread which cometh down from heaven; for he who was mighty to create bread without means to support natural life, could not want power to create bread without means to support spiritual life. And this heavenly bread we stand so much in need of every moment, that we ought to be always praying, “Lord, evermore give us this bread.”
Matthew 15:38 KJV And they that did eat were four thousand men, beside women and children.
Gill:And they that did eat, were four thousand men,…. This number of men, as well as of the baskets of fragments, clearly shows this to be a distinct miracle from the former of this kind, recorded in Mat_14:15. There the number of men were five thousand, here four thousand; there the quantity of food was five loaves and two fishes, here seven loaves and a few fishes; there the number of the baskets of fragments was twelve, here seven; though the quantity might be as large; since the word here used for a basket is not the same as there, and designs one of a larger size:
besides women and children; who were not taken into the account, though they ate as well as the men, and whose number might be very large.
Guzik:So they all ate and were filled, and they took up seven large baskets full of the fragments that were left: At the end of the meal, they gather more, not less. The seven large baskets show that God provided out of His abundance.
Matthew 15:39 KJV And he sent away the multitude, and took ship, and came into the coasts of Magdala.
Mar 8:10 MKJV And immediately He entered into a boat with His disciples and came into the region of Dalmanutha.
Barnes: Mat_15:39Coasts of Magdala – Mark says, “The parts of Dalmanutha.” Magdala was probably the same place which was formerly called Migdol, Jos_19:38. It is now called Mejdel, and is situated a few miles north of the city of Tiberias, in the land of Gennesaret, on the western side of the Sea of Tiberias, and directly east of Cana of Galilee. “It is a wretched hamlet of a dozen low huts huddled into one, and the whole ready to tumble into a dismal heap of black basaltic rubbish.” – The Land and the Book (Thomson), vol. ii. p. 108. This was the birthplace of Mary Magdalene, out of whom the Saviour cast seven devils, Mar_16:9. Dalmanutha was probably a small village near to Magdala, of which no remains have been discovered. There is no contradiction in the statements of the two evangelists here, for they do not say that Jesus went to either of these towns, but only to the coasts or parts where they were situated.