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Monday, July 22nd, 2024
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
Matthew 9

Godbey's Commentary on the New TestamentGodbey's NT Commentary

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Verse 1


Matthew 8:28-34 ; Matthew 9:1 ; Mark 5:1-21 ; and Mark 5:26-40 . We visited this country of the Gadarenes, which comes down to the northeast coast of this sea; Gergesa, their capital, situated on a beautiful, rich plain, enjoying a handsome view of this beautiful water, as well as the majestic mountains and fertile valleys of the surrounding countries. Matthew says they came to Gergesa, Mark and Luke say they came to the country of Gadara. This is in perfect harmony, as Gergesa was the city and Gadara the country. You must remember that when our Savior bade the temple adieu, the day before He was arrested, He said, “Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.” Within forty years from the utterance the Roman armies signally verified it. Hence the desolation has been on that country ever since. However, Gadara was a Gentile country; but it was the subject of a terrible Divine retribution, as we will see in this narrative, for rejecting the ministry of Jesus. “And they came to the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes, and a man with an unclean spirit, from the tombs, met Him immediately having come out of the ship, who had his habitation among the tombs; and no one was able to bind him with chains, because frequently he had been bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been slipped off by him and the fetters torn to pieces, and no one was able to subdue him.” Matthew says there were two demoniacs, exceedingly fierce, so no one could pass that way. Mark and Luke speak of but one. Luke says that he wore no clothing. It is a notable fact that raging maniacs have an aversion to wearing clothing, and if possible will tear it off. Mark: “And he was all the time, night and day, among the tombs and in the mountains; was crying, and cutting himself with stones. Seeing Jesus a great way off, he ran and fell down before Him, and crying, with a great voice, said, What is there to me and to Thee, O Jesus, the Son of the Most High God? I adjure Thee, in the name of God, that you torment me not; for He said to him, Unclean spirit, come out from the man.” Luke says: “For a long time he had possessed him, and he was kept bound with fetters and chains; and smashing his fetters, he was driven by the demon into the wilderness. And Jesus asked him, saying, What is thy name? and he said, Legion, because many demons had entered into him. And he continued to exhort Him that He may not command them to depart into the abyss;” i.e., the bottomless pit.

God never created the devil, a sinner, nor a snake. The snake originated from the transformation of the Nahash, an intelligent biped, one of the intermediate links between man and the lower animals, and unfortunately used by Satan in the abduction of humanity. Satan is a fallen archangel:

“How thou art fallen, O Lucifer, the morning star!” (Isaiah 14:12.)

The term “devil” is the ordinary cognomen of Satan, demon being the regular epithet applied to those innumerable evil spirits, swarming up out of the bottomless pit and thronging the atmosphere, their highest aspiration being a habitation in some human spirit, as in the case of this Gadarene, into whom a whole legion i.e., ten thousand had crowded together. Nothing is so terrible to these demons as the gloomy dungeons of the bottomless pit. Consequently they importuned Jesus not to send them thither. Originally the intelligences inhabiting the innumerable worlds, constituting the celestial empire, were presumptively all on probation. In the fatal revolt of Lucifer, an immense host, perhaps one-third (Revelation 12:0), followed the apostate archangel. As this apostasy, in all probability, infected many celestial worlds, we find innumerable hosts of fallen demons roaming round this world, hunting a habitation in some human heart. (Ephesians 6:0) We have no right to conclude that this Gadarene is the only legionaire in all the earth. It is pertinent to remember how all the demons, with whom Jesus comes in contact, recognize Him. We have no record at what epoch in bygone eternity the angels were created; evidently long before Divinity spoke this world into existence. As Jesus is co-eternal with God Himself, identical with the uncreated Jehovah, the recognition of these demons is doubtless a vivid reminiscence of the bright celestial ages which glided away before the dark period of rebellion and ruin supervened. It is here specified that the legionaire tore his clothing from his person, smashing all the fetters and escaping from all the chains with which they could bind him. The muscular power of these Oriental red men is vastly superior to that of Europeans and Americans. In all probability, he was a natural giant, as were most of the aborigines in that country in the days of Joshua; for you must remember he was not a Hebrew, but a Gentile. It is generally believed that physical strength is located in the muscles. This is a mistake. The muscles are the mere instruments used by the nerves, which are the custodians of physical power. A crowbar is a most potent instrument in the hands of a stalwart man; but left alone, utterly impotent.

I thought the muscles were the custodians of physical strength till, in 1884, a stroke of partial paralysis demonstrated the utter impotency of the muscles without nervous stimuli. From a human standpoint, the exegesis of Samson’s paradoxical strength was the induement of the Holy Ghost, who operated through his nerves, thus imparting miraculous physical dynamics. Now remember, this Gadarene had ten thousand demons, ready in a moment to electrify his nerves, thus imparting an incredible muscular power. I have seen epileptics whom it took a half-dozen strong men to manage. You have all witnessed the extraordinary feats of strength and activity performed by maniacs, lunatics, and epileptics. This man was doubtless a combination of them all, so many demons, ready at any moment to turn loose the very galvanic batteries of the pandemonium on their poor victim, thus making them instrumental in the most paradoxical feats of agility and power. Why did he dwell among the tombs? Satan is king of death and hell. He sways his leaden scepter over every graveyard, holding fast every human body in the dark sepulcher, as their souls in the regions of woe. Hence these demons found congeniality among the tombs.

Mark 5:11 . “And there was at the mountain a great herd of swine, feeding. And all the demons entreated him saying, Send us into the swine, that we may go into them. And Jesus immediately permitted them. And the unclean spirits, having come out, went into the swine, and the herd rushed down a steep place into the sea, and there were about two thousand, and they perished in the sea.” These heathen Gentiles set great store on the hog, a notoriously unclean animal, which God’s people were forbidden to raise, heavy interdictions being laid on the eating of the same. When I visited that country last November, our dragoman showed us the mountain traditionally recognized as the pasture of the swine, and the cliff down which the whole herd stampeded into the sea; thus transmitting to us a most monitory lesson against demoniacal possession, which is so common in all ages, the present day being no exception to the rule. Here we see these hogs unhesitatingly choosing suicide rather than demoniacal possession. This verdict of the swine should put millions to the blush this day, who go over the earth, full of demons, and claiming a place among the bon tons of society. “And those herding them fled, and proclaimed in the city and in the country; and they came out to see what is that which has been done. And they come to Jesus, and see the demonized man sitting down, clothed, and in his right mind, him who was called Legion; and they were afraid. And those seeing, explained to them how it occurred to the demonized man, and concerning the swine. And they began to entreat Him to depart from their coasts.” Luke 8:36 : “And those seeing, explained to them how the demonized man was saved; and the whole multitude of the surrounding country of the Gadarenes entreated Him to depart from them, because they were possessed with great fear.” Here we have the united testimony of Matthew, Mark, and Luke to the unanimous and importunate verdict of all the Gadarenes, requesting Jesus to leave their country. That this awful and hopeless demoniac had been wonderfully saved, all admitted. But there was another phase to the matter they had lost their swine. Now a pertinent question looks them all in the face. Will they have Jesus or bacon? If they keep Jesus, they can have all of the sick healed, all the devils cast out, all the people saved, soul and body, and turn their country into a little heaven, so they can live on angels’ food instead of “hog and hominy.” The popular verdict comes quickly, and without a dissenting voice: they all decide to let Jesus go, and save their bacon to eat and sell for the money.


“And embarking into the ship, He returned;” i.e., went back to Capernaum, the center of His evangelistic work in the North, thus throwing a dark shadow over all of that country of the Gadarenes, which has wrapped it in gloom and withered it with desolation these eighteen hundred years. When I visited that country, with its beautiful, fertile plains, bordering on the sea; majestic, rich mountains, with innumerable valleys and coves all, at the time of our Savior’s visit, flourishing as the gardens of the Lord, cultivated by a thriving and enterprising people, whose temporal needs a gracious Providence had most abundantly supplied. So they needed nothing but the Savior, whom, in loving, Fatherly affection, He so kindly sent them. O what a grand introductory He made among them in saving the worst man they had! How all hell rallied to hold their grip tight on Gadara! Jesus comes to all people, even uninvited, thus pitying their blindness and ignorance, and giving all a chance for salvation. But when He turns the light on them, if, instead of rejoicing in it, they prefer darkness, and, like these besotted Gadarenes, even have the impudence to ask Him to leave, He always goes, leaving them to their choice, with the devil and hell, world without end. Jesus saves none against their will; neither does He stay where He is not wanted. When I stood upon the old walls of Gergesa, the capital of Gadara, to which Jesus went, and looked around upon the ruins of the city, without an inhabitant except the wandering Arabs, then on the spot, grazing their herds and flocks, and saw their country, which has lain desolate eighteen hundred years, I saw in panorama, as I look out over the sea, Jesus embarking on the ship, which sails away, appearing smaller and smaller, till she passes out of sight, thus leaving poor Gadara doomed and ruined. How signally has this been verified in the dismal fate of that country! The Gadarenes have literally faded from the face of the earth, not one to be found; their capital desolate, their cities and villages depopulated and destroyed; their country in the hands of the nomadic Bedonins, the wild sons of Ishmael, in reference to whom God said, “His hand shall be against every man’s hand, and every man’s hand against him.” They are born robbers. If you would visit the land of Gadara this day, you would need an armed escort to save you from robbery and murder. What a warning to the people who request Jesus to depart from them!

Verses 2-8


Matthew 9:2-8 ; Mark 2:1-12 ; & Luke 5:17-26 . Mark: “And again He came into Capernaum during those days, and it was heard that He is at home. And immediately the multitudes came together, so that there was no room, not even at the door; and He continued to speak the word to them.” Luke says: “The Pharisees and teachers of the law, who had come out of every village of Galilee and Judea and Jerusalem, were sitting around.” In that day they had no newspapers, steam-engines, telegraphs, nor telephones, the news only going on the back of a camel, a fleet horse, or a swift pedestrian; yet, to our inextricable puzzle, the tidings flew everywhere with astounding velocity, notifying the people, as here Luke says, not only in the cities, but all the villages, that Jesus has come back from His retirement Into Capernaum, His headquarters, and is again preaching to the multitudes, healing the sick and casting out demons.

“They come to Him, carrying a paralyzed man, borne by four. Not being able to reach Him, on account of the crowd, they took up the roof where He was, and lifting it out, let down the bed on which the paralyzed man was lying down.” Luke says: “Mounting up on top of the house, they let him down through the tiles, along with the bed, in the midst, in the presence of Jesus.” The houses in that country have flat roofs, covered with stone, with stairways ascending up, and tiling arranged for removal at their option, when they wish to go out on the roof. The first time I ever entered Jerusalem, my guide escorted me through a lofty mansion by internal stairways, leading up through the roof, giving me a grand view of the city, which was impossible from the streets. As there is no doubt but this was Peter's house in Capernaum, and the home of Jesus, the presumption is, it was not very high, the multitude being outside. These importunate friends of the paralytic, pressing their way through the crowd, use a ladder to climb the house from the outside, reaching the solid stone roof, cemented together so that it looked like a single great limestone rock covering the house, as I have so often seen and walked over them; coming to this movable door, take up the tiles, and let the man down, lying on his bed, lowering him to the very presence of Jesus, in the midst of His sermon.

“And Jesus, seeing their faith, says to the paralytic, Child, thy sins are forgiven.” Here we have a wonderful demonstration of prevailing faith.

There is no doubt but the paralytic had faith in Jesus to heal him, as these four friends, all round him during the long journey while carrying him on his bed, heaving like volcanoes, had inundated him with an atmosphere red- hot and electrified with indefatigable faith, so that, if he didn't have it before, he certainly had imbibed it from his company by the time he reached the feet of Jesus; yet we have no allusion whatever to the faith of the patient, but it is unequivocally certified that the healing resulted from the faith of his four friends, who certainly abundantly proved their faith by their works in thus bringing him to the presence of Jesus, despite every conceivable difficulty. O that the perishing myriads all round us could only have friends enough to carry them to Jesus on the pinions of a faith that will take no denial! What a transcendent inspiration to all Christian workers, this notable case, where Jesus healed the man responsive to the faith of his friends!

Luke 5:21 . “And the scribes and Pharisees began to reason, saying, Who is this One who speaketh blasphemies? Who is able to forgive sins except God alone? And Jesus, knowing their thoughts, responding, said to them, Why do you reason in your hearts? Why is it easier to say, Thy sins are forgiven, than to say, Arise and walk? But in order that you may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, He said to the paralyzed man, I say unto thee, Arise, and taking up thy bed, go to thy home. And immediately arising in presence of them, taking up that on which he was lying down, he departed to his own home, glorifying God. And ecstasy seized all, and they continued to glorify God; and they were filled with fear, saying, That we have seen paradoxical things this day.” While the Jewish Church was awfully unspiritual, and the preachers, as a rule, without an experimental knowledge of God, they held pertinaciously to the cardinal truths of the Bible, one of which here very lucidly crops out; i.e., that none but God can forgive sins. Many modern Churches, who are depending on priestly absolution, water baptism, sacraments, and good works, to take away their sins, would do well to heed this fundamental truth, here enunciated by the fallen clergy of apostate Judaism; i.e., that none but God alone can forgive sins. Therefore we must all pass by our own works, Church rites, water baptism, clerical intercession, and everything else, and go to God alone, on our knees, and stay till He, for Christ's sake, forgives all our sins, and witnesses to the same by His blessed Holy Spirit. In this case, Jesus avails Himself of the smaller work i.e., bodily healing which was visible to mortal eyes, and incontestably demonstrated by the uprising of the patient, and the carrying of his bed away to his home, in order to illustrate the greater work i.e., the forgiving of his sins which either directly or indirectly had brought on him the paralysis, which is not hereditary, like leprosy, which typifies inbred sin; and consequently, as it originates from violation of the hygienical laws, represents actual sins, which must be removed by pardon, while original sin can only be expurgated by the cleansing blood of Jesus and the refining fire of the Holy Ghost. It is highly probable that this paralytic was a very bad case, of long standing, and extensively known by those people. Hence, his sudden and perfect healing, so clearly demonstrated, produced an intense excitement, not only filling the people with delight to see the mighty work, but Overawing them with profoundest reverence in the realization of the Divine presence.

Verses 18-26


Matthew 9:18-26 ; Mark 5:23-43 ; & Luke 8:41-56 . Mark: “And, behold, one of the chief rulers of the synagogue, by name Jairus, comes; and seeing Him, falls at His feet, and entreats Him much, saying, My little daughter is now at the point of death; having come, lay Your hands on her, in order that she may be saved, and shall live. And He went away with him, and a great multitude follows Him, even treading on Him. And He, still speaking, they come from the chief ruler of the synagogue, saying, Thy daughter is dead; why do you still trouble the Teacher? And Jesus, immediately hearing the word spoken, says to the chief ruler of the synagogue, Fear not; only believe. And He comes to the house of the chief ruler, and did not admit any one to follow Him, except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James, and He sees the uproar, the people weeping and wailing much. And coming in, He says to them, Why do you mourn and weep? The little child is not dead, but sleepeth. And they hooted at Him. And putting all out, He takes the father and mother of the little child, and those who are with Him, and goes in where the little child was lying. And taking the hand of the little child, says to her, Talitha cumi, which is interpreted, Little girl, I say unto thee, Arise. And immediately the little girl stood up, and began to walk round; for she was twelve years old. And they were delighted with great delight. And He commanded them much that no one should know it; and He said that something should be given to her to eat.” There at Capernaum, His resident city, the home of Peter, Andrew, James, John, and Matthew, and the scene of more miracles than any other city in the world thither the multitudes from all nations have come, bringing their sick, and laying them down at His feet, unutterably delighted to see the blind receive their sight; the deaf gloriously healed; the poor cripples, throwing away their crutches, and leaping exultantly; the paralyzed, lunatics, maniacs, demoniacs, and all sorts of epileptics, wonderfully and triumphantly healed, causing the surrounding mountains to echo and reverberate their stentorian shouts. Now He adds to the voluminous catalogue of these stupendous miracles the climax of all; i.e., the resurrection of the dead. Luke says that she was his only daughter, a lovely damsel of twelve years. We see He takes none with Him into the presence of the corpse except the father and mother, and Peter, James, and John. These three apostles, enjoying a deeper insight into spiritual things than the other nine, are not only thus honored on this notable occasion, but we find them His only concomitants on the Mount of Transfiguration, and also receiving His especial attention and confidence amid the agonies of Gethsemane. The Jews were accustomed to mourn for the dead seven days. In this mourning they blew on the pipe, producing a loud, shrill, solemn sound, which commingled with the bitter wailings of the mourners. The people in that country this day practice that same excessive weeping and mourning over the dead. E.V., “Laughed Him to scorn,” is not a good translation, as there was no laughing there. The idea is, they “hooted at Him,” thus ridiculing His assertion, “She is not dead, but sleepeth.” You will find the New Testament discarding that grievous word “death,” and substituting the mild and hygienical term “sleep.” This is in harmony with the great plan of salvation, which includes the body and mind, as well as the soul, contemplating complete and glorious restitution, recognizing the body immortal as the soul, which is certainly true, if we take in the resurrection.

Verses 20-22


Matthew 9:20-22 ; Mark 5:25-36 ; Luke 8:43-50 . Mark: “A certain woman, being with a hemorrhage of blood twelve years, and having suffered much from many physicians, and spending all things in her possession, and being profited as to nothing, but rather having come to the worst, hearing concerning Jesus, coming behind in the crowd, touched His garment. For she said, If I may touch His garments, I shall be saved. And immediately the fountain of her blood was dried up, and she knew that she was healed from her disease.” The presumption is that this woman did not have lung hemorrhage, as they are not apt to survive so long. We have no intimation as to the character of the hemorrhage. It must have been very serious, as she had availed herself of all possible medical aid, even submitting to financial bankruptcy. We have the significant statement, polla pathousa hupo pollon iatron, “having suffered much from many physicians,” involving the conclusion that these physicians, instead of relieving the ailment, had greatly augmented her suffering. Doubtless this is a very significant truth; in the majority of cases, the medical treatment only adds to the suffering of the patient, without curing the disease. This poor victim of a twelve years’ hemorrhage had not only suffered much gratuitously, without receiving any benefit, but had expended all of her living and come down to poverty. Now that she has nothing, the physicians will not medicate her; therefore, in her hopeless desperation, she is in good fix to turn over the work to Jesus. You see, from this illustration, that there is no real conflict between Divine healing and medical treatment, as they seldom come in competition; the people, like this woman, going to the ultimata thula with physicians before they really turn over the case to Jesus, and trust Him alone to heal them. “And immediately, Jesus knowing in Himself that the power had gone out from Him, turning in the crowd, He said, Who touched My clothes? And His disciples said to Him, You see the crowd treading upon You, and You say, Who touched Me? And He was looking around to see the one having done this. And the woman, fearing and trembling, knowing what had been done unto her, came and fell before Him, and told Him the whole truth. And He said to her, Daughter, thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace, and be thou whole from thy disease.” Here we see an indisputable confirmation of bodily healing through faith, precisely as the soul is healed through faith.

We do not get what we ask for, but what we believe for, our faith being the measuring line of our reception from God. The human side of Divine healing is simple faith in Jesus for that very thing, as He is no respecter of persons. The great law, “As your faith is, so be it unto you,” is applicable to the body as to the soul. We do not say you must discard your physician, but we do say that you must have faith in Jesus alone to heal you. Perhaps if Jesus had come along at an earlier day, when she was paying out her money and looking to those physicians to heal her, her faith in them would have vitiated her faith in Jesus, and thus defeated her healing. Your physician may help you, like your nurse; but you make a great mistake when you look to them for healing. In this I do not depreciate the medical profession, as the most competent physicians I have met in my extensive travels have confessed to me their utter incompetency to heal the sick, but only to assist nature, it being the province of God alone to give health and life.

Verses 27-31


Matthew 9:27-31 . “And two blind men followed Him coming out from thence [i.e., from Jairus’s house], saying, Have mercy on us, O Son of David! And the two blind men came to Him, having come into the house [i.e., doubtless Peter’s house, which was His home], and Jesus says to them, Do you believe that I am able to do this? They say to Him, Yea, Lord. Then He touched their eyes, saying, Be it done unto you according to your faith. And their eyes were opened. And Jesus charged them saying, See that no one know it. And they having gone out, published Him in all that country.” They evidently did wrong. However, the miracle was so great and stupendous, those men, who had lived long and weary years groping their way in rayless midnight, now flooded with the effulgent glory of perennial noonday, meeting their old friends, panic-stricken and electrified on all sides to find them seeing clearly, walking over precipices, up and down craggy steeps, and over housetops, and performing all sorts of gymnastic legerdemain, illustrating to the world the perfection of their sight, O how hard it was for them to keep the secret as to the Authorship of the paradoxical miracle! Here, again, you see clearly the great law of the redemptive scheme, appertaining both to soul and body, “Be it done unto you according to your faith.” This miracle Jesus wrought in the city of Capernaum, the center of His evangelistic work in the North, and whither all Galilee, and myriads from Judea, and all surrounding heathendom, constantly poured in, listening spellbound to His wonderful preaching, and so electrified by His miracles that the Jews were incessantly on tiptoe to crown Him King, having endured the galling yoke of Roman despotism thirty-two years, and looking to the Messiah to come, break that yoke, and set them free, Himself, their coronated King, sitting down on the throne of David and Solomon. The momentary probability of an effort on the part of the Jews to crown Him King was the reason why, when among the Jews, He charged them not to publish His mighty works, lest a popular revolution should expedite His death before He had finished His work.

Verses 32-34


Matthew 9:32-34 . “And they, going out [i.e., out of the house where He had healed the two blind men], behold, they brought to Him a dumb man, who had a demon. And the demon having been cast out the dummy spake. And the multitudes were astonished, saying, Never did it so appear in Israel. And the Pharisees continued to say, He casteth out the demons through the ruler of the demons.” This was a most decisive case, as the demon had managed so to paralyze the man’s vocal organs as utterly to disqualify him to articulate his voice. The moment Jesus ejected the demon, the man’s speech returned to him all right, and he spoke with volubility and ready utterance. O how the dumb Churches of the present day need a visit from the Prophet of Galilee, that He may cast out all of the dumb demons, and untie the tongue of the members, that they may testify to His glory! That demon certainly has legions of coadjutors in the popular Churches of the present day, whose predominant and distressing plague is dumbness, thus turning the Church into a graveyard, whereas it ought to be a battle-field, reverberating the thunders of heaven’s artillery, commingled with the moans of the wounded and the shrieks of the dying. However, the gospel Church is certainly like a graveyard on the resurrection morn, when millions are leaping into life, with tremendous shouts of victory, while hell is howling under signal and eternal defeat.

These croaking, bigoted Pharisees troop after Him like hell-hounds, barking at all His miracles, bleating out to the multitudes, “He casts out the demons through the ruler of the demons,” thus having the diabolical audacity to fabricate that silly and senseless exegesis of His stupendous miracles that He has secured the cooperation of Beelzebul i.e., the devil who has command of all these demons, and makes them skedaddle at the rebuke of Jesus; thus plunging headlong into the irretrievable maelstrom of the unpardonable sin.

Verses 35-36


Matthew 9:35-36 ; Mark 6:6 . Matthew “And Jesus was a going round all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every ailment among the people.” Our Savior, now the third time, accompanied by the twelve apostles whom He had chosen, and the holy women who cooperated with their ministry, and not a few voluntary disciples, radiates out from Capernaum, traversing the whole country of Galilee, which included the tribes of Dan, Naphtali, Zebulun, and Issachar, preaching the gospel of the kingdom in all their villages and cities. Hence we see that Jesus was an evangelist of the most aggressive character, not only peregrinating the whole country, and preaching the gospel of spiritual salvation full and free, but indiscriminately healing the sick. “And seeing the multitudes, He was moved with compassion in their behalf, because they were fleeced and abandoned, as sheep having no shepherd.” N.B. These people were all members of the Jewish Church, gathering Sabbatically in their synagogues, which everywhere abounded, and enjoying the ministry of the scribes, their pastors, and the expositions of their cultured theologians (called “lawyers,” because they expounded the laws of Moses and the prophets). Now why does Jesus thus speak of those people, describing them as poor sheep having been sheared closely, and turned out of the fold to weather the storm and take chances with the wild beasts and robbers? The case is very plain. The word here, which I translate “fleeced,” is eskulmenoi, which also means “harassed, vexed, abused,” signifying the treatment which those people received at the hands of the ministry who had charge of them. And the other, errimmenoi, means “forsaken, abandoned, cast away.” Now, of course, these strong affirmations of our Lord have a spiritual signification, revealing the sad fact that these people were utterly destitute of competent spiritual guides.

Now do not forget that these were Jews, holding regular membership in the Church which God established, and enjoying all the privileges of the synagogue worship, with the living ministry faithfully serving them. What was the matter? Those preachers, with all their learning, were spiritually dead, ”the blind leading the blind,” laying heavy financial burdens on the people, and neglecting their souls, thus practically abandoning them for the devil. O how history repeats itself! We do not have to go back to the Judaic ages in order to find the Lord’s sheep “fleeced” and abandoned for the wolves to devour.

Verses 37-38


Matthew 9:37-38 . “Then He says to His disciples, The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest, in order that He may send out the laborers into His harvest.” Our Lord, seeing the awful state of the Jewish Church, destitute of competent spiritual guides, going miserably into eternal ruin, and consequently calls on all of His disciples to unite in a prayer to God to send out more laborers into the harvest. This prayer ascends up to Heaven, and receives a speedy answer, so that, instead of a single evangelistic force, He determines to multiply seven-fold, sending out the twelve apostles, two by two, to scour the whole country of Galilee and Judea, moving with all possible expedition, and preaching the gospel in every city and village. O how inconceivably urgent a similar policy this day! N.B. The time has not yet arrived to unfurl the gospel banner to the Gentile world. Hence, all of this evangelistic movement was confined to the Jews; i.e., in the Churches, preaching in the synagogues, as well as to the multitudes in the open air.

Matthew 10:1-42 ; Mark 6:7-13 ; & Luke 9:1-6 . Matthew: “And calling His twelve disciples, He gave them power over unclean spirits, so as to cast them out, and heal every disease and every malady. Luke says, “He sent them forth to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.” The kingdom of God, or kingdom of heaven, is the Divine government, which prevails among the angels and redeemed spirits throughout all celestial worlds; hell having none of it, and earth a mixture some, citizens of God’s kingdom; others, the denizens of Satan’s pandemonium.

Matthew “Jesus sent forth these twelve, commanding them, saying, Go not into way of the heathens nor enter ye into a city of the Samaritans; but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” As the Jews were the organized Church of God, and the custodian’s of the Divine Oracles, God’s plan was first to give them the gospel, so they might turn evangelists, and carry it to the ends of the earth. For a similar reason, we should now begin with the Churches, and get all of them saved who will receive the living Word, and then go to the world. You see our Savior repeatedly mentions “the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Do you not know that this included the rank and the of the ministry and membership? There were a few honorable exceptions, like Simeon, Anna, Zacharias, Elizabeth, and the apostles. The Divine economy originally contemplated the Jewish Church en masse receiving Christ, and enjoying the immortal honor of heralding Him to the world. This they missed, both preachers and people, except the elect few. In a similar manner, it is the glorious privilege of the whole Church to receive Christ at His second coming; but amid the sad apostasy of the latter days (2 Thessalonians 2:0), we see that only the elect few will enjoy this transcendent glory. “Going, preach, saying, That the kingdom of the heavens draweth nigh.” This was significantly true, because they were the heralds of the kingdom, enjoying citizenship in the same, and commending it to all others. “Heal the sick, raise the dead.” We have a number of instances, in the ministries of Paul and Peter, of healing the sick; and at Joppa, Peter actually raised Dorcas from the dead. Her tomb was pointed out to me when I was there a few days ago. “Cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.” Paul at Philippi ejected the fortune-telling demon from a damsel. The genuine, regular work of the Holy Ghost in the gospel dispensation, saving and sanctifying souls, is constantly accompanied by demoniacal ejectment and bodily healing. “Possess neither gold nor silver, nor copper in your girdles;” i.e., do not wait and prodigalize God’s precious time and opportunity in order to get money of any kind, as God can feed and clothe you as well out in the evangelistic field as at home. Have faith in Him to feed you like the birds and clothe you like the lilies. “Nor valise, nor two coats, nor sandals, nor staff; for the laborer is worthy of his food.” Hence, you see, we are to wait for nothing, but go as we are, taking what we have, and trusting God for everything.

“Into whatsoever city or village you enter, inquire who in it is worthy; and abide there until you may depart.” This is not an interdiction of house-to- house preaching; but their time was short, and the work too great to admit of it. Hence they are commanded to find some place with God’s elect, and thence radiate out everywhere, preaching the Word, till they traverse the field. “And going into a house, salute it. And if the house may be worthy, let your peace come upon it; but if it may be unworthy, let your peace return unto you.” Salvation is optionary, and never goes begging. God is infinitely rich, and can get along without any of us. “Whosoever may not receive you, nor hear your words, going out from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet. Truly, I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city.” When we go to a people and offer them the gospel, we have done our part, and will be rewarded in eternity as if they had received it. When they reject our message, they relieve us, and assume the responsibility of their own damnation. Sodom and Gomorrah were Gentile cities, in the beautiful, rich, and productive Vale of Sidim, which were destroyed for their wickedness, the very site they occupied being now covered by the Dead Sea. These heathen cities never had the opportunities of the Jews and the Christians. Consequently the latter, who reject the gospel, will sustain a more grievous responsibility in the judgment-day, and sink to a more terrible doom in the world of woe, than the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, with all their dark vices.

“Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves; be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” The serpent is the symbol of Satan, who has a wonderful intelligence, shrewdness, and cunning; while the dove is the symbol of the Holy Ghost, full of innocent, sweet, regenerating, and sanctifying love, and ready to pour it out into every penitent, believing heart. “Harmless” is akeraioi, from akeranumi, from a, “not,” keranumi, “to mix.” Hence the word means unmixed, the strongest statement of entire sanctification. Sinners are full of unmixed evil; holy, sanctified saints are full of unmixed good; while unsanctified Christians have a mixed experience, the pure love of God in a heart which is not free from depravity, but needs the second work of grace to eliminate it all away, leaving nothing but the pure love of God to fill the sanctified heart. We see from this commandment that, while we are to be innocent, holy, and faithful, trusting God for everything necessary to soul and body, we are still to carry with us the good, common sense with which we are born, and to utilize all the intelligence God gives us, “watching” lest we enter into temptation. Ministerial failures are constantly being made, simply because people do not use their common sense. “Beware of men; for they will deliver you up unto the Sanhedrins, and scourge you in their synagogues.” You see how they arrested, beat, and imprisoned Paul and Silas. “And you shall be led before governors and kings, for My name’s sake, for a testimony to them and the Gentiles.” Whereas the former clause specifies Jewish punishments and persecutions, this gives those they will encounter among the Gentiles; e.g., Paul, at Paphos, on the Isle of Cyprus, testified, when arraigned before Sergius Paulus, and won him; but when, in a similar manner, at the tribunal of Felix, another Roman proconsul, at Caesarea, he testified; but Felix rejected.

“But when they may deliver you up, do not he solicitous, how or what you may speak, for it will be given to you in that hour what you shall say; for it is not you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father who is speaking in you.” Wonderful has been the testimony and preaching of the martyrs, in all ages, when brought face to face with the burning fagot or the blood-thirsty lion. This Scripture has been most wonderfully verified, the heathen historian’s of the first three centuries certifying that the testimony of the dying martyrs often won their own murderers, so that they embrace the Christian religion, likewise sealing their faith with their blood. “Brother will deliver up brother to death, and father the child; and the children will rise up against the parents, and put them to death.” It has been estimated that two hundred millions of martyrs, during the Pagan and Papal ages, have died for Jesus. You can readily see how families would all be divided during those times of peril and bloodshed, the persecutors requiring them to testify against each other, and even participate in their martyrdom, as the only way of escape from a similar fate. “You shall be hated by all men for My name’s sake; but he that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved.” Those apostles, to whom He gave this commission and appended these stringent liabilities, all proved true to the end, except poor Judas. Matthew suffering martyrdom in Ethiopia; Mark, in Egypt; Luke, in Greece; James the Elder, the first of all, beheaded by Herod in Jerusalem; and James the Less, at a later date, hurled from a pinnacle of the temple; Matthias, the successor of Judas, suffered martyrdom in Abyssinia; Thomas, in India; Jude, in Tartary; Andrew, in Armenia; Bartholomew, in Phrygia; Philip, at Heliopous, in Syria; Paul and Peter, at Rome; and John, miraculously delivered from martyrdom in the caldron of boiling oil at Rome, and, as we believe, finally translated into heaven without seeing death.

“And when they may persecute you in this city, fly into another.” Thus you see, the people of God who bear this message of love and grace are not to use carnal weapons in self-defense, but run away, trusting the Lord for another open door. “For truly, I say unto you, That you may not complete the cities of Israel, till the Son of man may come.” You must remember, the immediate commission of these apostles, under which they are now going out, is restricted to the Jews, that restriction being removed when our Lord ascended, and the Holy Ghost fell on them, qualifying them for the conquest of the world. They are only gone out about three months in these duets, traversing the territory of Israel, till they return to the Lord, and accompanied Him the ensuing year of His ministry. N.B. The Mount of Transfiguration was really a prelude of the Lord’s second and glorious coming. This they actually witnessed in a few months from that date, thus verifying this mysterious declaration, as they had not yet gone over all the cities of Israel till the Son of man did actually come in adumbration on the Mount of Transfiguration, thus preliminarily revealing to them His second and glorious coming.

“The disciple is not above his teacher nor the servant above his lord.” Where we have “Master” so frequently in E.V., the word didaskalos, the noun, from didasko, to teach, hence it literally means a teacher. Jesus is the world’s Great Teacher, without whom the black darkness of the pandemonium would envelop it. “It is sufficient for the disciple that he may be as his teacher, and the servant as his lord. If they called the landlord Beelzebub, how much more the inmates of his house?” Our Savior here reveals to all who would be His witnesses, and herald His truth to a dying world, that we must be ready for any fate and disappointed at nothing.

“My rest is in heaven, My home is not here; Then why should I murmur at trials severe?

Come trouble, come sorrow; The worst that can come, Will shorten my journey, and hasten me home.”

Our Teacher and Lord, our great Exemplar, was homeless, destitute, and the world combined against Him, not even permitting Him to live on the earth which He had created. If we can riot accept the situation, and walk in His footprints, we can not be His disciples.

“Therefore be not afraid of them. For nothing has been hidden which shall not be revealed, and secret which shall not be known.” This follows as a logical sequence from the preceding affirmation in reference to the grave, criminal, and even diabolical affirmations which have invariably been adduced against the people of God. The Roman historians, Seutonius, Pliny, and Sallust, have all chronicled the gravest sins and darkest crimes against the Christians during the Martyr Ages of the heathen empire, thus apologizing for the bloody persecutionary edicts issued against them by the emperors. Of course, these historians only recorded hearsay, not claiming ocular testimony in the case. They said of Jesus, constantly, “He hath a demon,” “He is gone mad,” and “He is beside Himself.” They finally killed Him in the most disgraceful method, even hanging Him up between two criminals, notorious for robbery and murder. Similar accusations have been arrayed against the martyrs of all ages, thus signally verifying these prophecies of our Savior. Millions of people have been put to death, under gravest accusations, who, in the judgment-day, will shine like angels, while their accusers and persecutors, who stood at the head of the Church, will be calling for rocks and mountains to fall on them, and hide them from the face of Him that sitteth upon the throne. While, of course, the primary application of our Lord’s affirmation as to the revealment of all secrets is the ultimate and eternal vindication of His saints, it certainly follows that we should, in this life, become perfectly lucid and transparent to all illuminated eyes, so they can actually look through us, and read the hieroglyphics the Spirit has written on the tablets of our hearts, thus sweeping away the oath-bound secrecy of lodgery in all its forms and phases. “What I say to you in the darkness, speak ye in the light; and what ye hear in the ear, proclaim ye upon the house-tops.” This is a confirmation of the preceding, showing up the thorough transparency of God’s true saints. When filled with the Holy Ghost, secrecy evanesces.

“Be not afraid of those who kill the body, and are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” The sainted mother, by her godly teaching, baptized with loving tears and fired with the prayer of heavenly inspiration, should put the hell-scare on her infant so thorough that the tomfoolery and superficialism of the popular religion, which brings a polar iceberg into the Church to melt in hell-fire, can never be able to obliterate; but an early conversion will only add expedition to the race-horse speed with which you are running from an open hell and an unchained devil, and sanctification give you eaglewings to expedite the velocity of your precipitate flight from the awful, deep-toned thunders of that quenchless damnation which awaits all who, by the intrigues of men and devils, shall fall below the Bible standard of “holiness to the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14.) “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall to the ground without your Father; indeed, all the hairs of your head are numbered.” The infinite minutiae of the Divine cognizance, absolutely passing by nothing, but taking in everything indiscriminately, are here mentioned as a constant and potent inspiration to us all, peremptorily to settle matters for judgment and eternity by actually getting rid of the devil and everything belonging to him, in the glorious experience of entire sanctification and the constant indwelling of the Holy Spirit, as nothing short of this can actually settle that awful problem, whose solution is the “destruction of soul and body in hell.” “Therefore be not afraid; for you are of more value than many sparrows.” “Perfect love casts out fear.” Consequently the poorest and weakest saint, if true to God, can shout perennial victory from the mouth of hell to the gate of glory.

“Therefore, every one who shall confess Me before the people, I will confess him in the presence of My Father who is in heaven; but whosoever may deny Me in the presence of the people, I will also deny him in the presence of My Father who is in the heavens.” O what a potent inspiration to Christian testimony, semper et bique, “always and everywhere!” The awful delinquency in this duty and depreciation of this glorious privilege, thus turning the Churches into graveyards instead of battle-fields, is the “Ichabod” superscribed on the walls of modern Churchism. In the face of these glorious promises on the one side, and terrific denunciations on the other, voiceless pews are an incontestable proclamation of dead Churches. “Do not consider that I came to send peace on the earth; I came not to send peace, but a sword.” The Bible abounds in riddles and enigmas, inexplicable to the carnal mind. Jesus is called the Prince of Peace, and at the same time described as a mounted military General, leading His embattled host into deadly conflict, deluging the world with blood, and heaping it with mountains of the slain. Both of these characteristics are literally true. The peace which He gives only follows a bloody war with sin and the devil, fought under the black flag, which means victory or death. The sword in this passage is the formidable weapon wielded by the Holy Ghost in the extermination of sin and the decapitation of Adam the First

“For I came to divide a man against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and the enemies of a man shall be the inmates of his own house.” All this is the normal effect accompanying a true work of salvation; Satan’s grip on the people being so tight that he is certain to hold enough to represent him in every family, unless literal miracles of grace flood the home with heavenly conquest and stampede the devils down to hell. Bogus, popular religion makes no disturbance in families and communities, from the simple fact that the devil is not fool enough to waste his ammunition on dead game, as there are plenty of live people to shoot at. Whenever the holiness movement gets so it does not arouse the devil in dead Churches and stir up hell in debauched communities, you may go and write “Ichabod” on its banner, and prepare its winding sheet as quickly as possible, to bury it speedily, before the stench of a putrifying carcass disseminates pestilential malaria far and wide. “He that loveth father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; he that loveth son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me; and whosoever does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.” Here we see illustrated the absolute sine qua non confronting every aspirant to discipleship and heaven; i.e., the utter subordination of consanguinity, affinity, home, friends, and earthly possessions to the great Captain of our salvation. This is the fatal maelstrom into which many a bark has foundered.

“The one having found his soul, shall loose it; the one having lost his soul for My sake, shall find it.” The E.V. here has “life,” instead of soul. The word used by our Savior is not zoe, “life,” but psyche, the regular word for soul. In every instance in the New Testament, where the E.V. has “soul,” the Greek is psyche. Hence I give it just as Jesus said it. While King James’s translators were scholarly theologians, they were not eminent for spirituality, but much on par with the English clergy. I do not think they saw down into the profound depths of our Savior’s meaning in this passage. There never was but one creation of the human race. We were all created in Adam seminally. Hence, in the fall, we all fell with Adam, forfeiting the Divine and receiving the Satanic or carnal mind. James speaks of the “double-soul man.” (James 1:4; James 4:8.) The sinner has but one mind, and that is bad. The wholly sanctified has but one mind, and that is good; while the unsanctified Christian is James’s double-minded man, having the carnal mind in subjugated state, and the mind of Christ, received in regeneration, ruling in his heart and life, but must have the carnal mind sanctified away before he can go to heaven. Psyche, “soul,” is the word used by James. The reason why so few get saved is because they are not willing to travel the death route to heaven. Millions, intimidated by the grim monster, lifting up the battle-ax to decapitate Adam the First, turn away, and travel some other road, which does not require so much self- denial. We are born into the world with an evil soul, which must die, or hell is our doom. Hence this awful test: Unless you are brave enough to die, and take chances for life beyond the black river, your heavenly hope is Satan’s ignis tatuus,

“whose delusive ray Glows but to betray.”

“He that receiveth you receiveth Me; he that receiveth Me, receiveth Him that sent Me.” Christ bridges the chasm between God and man. Hence the wonderful feasibility of the redemptive scheme. He sends out His saved people to save others. The lost millions of earth have nothing to do but receive us, with our messages of truth and holiness, and in so doing they receive Christ; i.e., the loving, sympathizing Brother, Jesus. But He is not only man, but God. Therefore when the condescending, tender-hearted Nazarene takes you by the hand, behold! the hand of the Omnipotent grips you, lifting you from the lowest hell to the highest heaven. “He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet, shall receive a prophet’s reward; he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man, shall receive a righteous man’s reward.” O what a thrilling incentive to wide-open door and generous hospitality, ever ready, with joyful enthusiasm, to receive the saints and prophets, whom Jesus sends forth into this dark world to rescue the perishing and save the lost! The reward of God’s prophets and righteous people what is it? None other than a crown of life and a home in heaven. The departure of hospitality from the Church is the death-knell now ringing from ocean to ocean, pealing out the mournful funeral of the great Protestant denominations.

“Whosoever may only give one of these little ones a cup of cold water to drink in the name of the disciple, truly, I say unto you, Can not lose his reward.” We must remember that God sets great store on little things, appreciating the giver rather than the gift. How these promises should inspire us all to lend a helping hand in the expedition of every gospel pilgrim on his way, publishing salvation to the ends of the earth! “And it came to pass when Jesus finished commanding His twelve disciples, He departed thence to teach and to preach in all the cities.” The preceding discourse, delivered by our Savior to His twelve apostles, when He sent them out, two by two, to traverse all Israel with the uttermost expedition, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, should receive the especial and diligent study of all who read these pages. O that He may so pour on you the Holy Ghost, meanwhile, that you may hear His interior voice calling you into the evangelistic field! I assure you, this is the grand incentive inspiring the humble writer of the Commentaries, praying incessantly that all the readers may catch the heavenly flame, respond to the loving call, and enter the gospel-field unhesitatingly.

Bibliographical Information
Godbey, William. "Commentary on Matthew 9". "Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ges/matthew-9.html.
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