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Bible Commentaries
Matthew 12

Everett's Study Notes on the Holy ScripturesEverett's Study Notes

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Verses 1-14

The Rejection of the Testimony of Old Testament Scripture (God’s Testimony to Man’s Understanding) Matthew 12:1-14 continues to place emphasis upon persecutions that come against the Kingdom of Heaven, leading to His third discourse on this topic in Matthew 13:1-53. While the preceding section emphasizes the rejection of the testimonies of John the Baptist and Jesus, this section emphasizes the rejection of the Old Testament Scriptures. This second section offers two pericopae that reveal how the religious leaders had rejected the testimony of the Old Testament Scriptures regarding the laws of the Sabbath (Matthew 12:1-8 and Matthew 12:9-14). This passage reveals the most aggressive response from the Pharisees at this point in His ministry as they reject the testimony of the Scriptures. This arrangement of pericopae offered to the New Testament Church the opportunity to believe the testimony of Scripture in that Jesus fulfilled it on this occasion.

Outline Here is a proposed outline:

1. Persecution over the Law Matthew 12:1-8

2. Persecution over the Law Matthew 12:9-14

Matthew 12:1-8 Persecution over the Law: Rejection by Jewish Leaders for Plucking Grain on the Sabbath (Mark 7:23-28 , Luke 6:1-5 ) In Matthew 12:1-8 Jesus is challenged by the Pharisees for plucking grain on the Sabbath. In response, Jesus refers to two Old Testament examples of those who acted contrary to the Law: (1) David ate the showbread in the Temple (Matthew 12:3-4), and (2) the priests work on the Sabbath (Matthew 12:5).

Matthew 12:1 At that time Jesus went on the sabbath day through the corn; and his disciples were an hungred, and began to pluck the ears of corn, and to eat.

Matthew 12:1 Comments - The Mosaic Law allowed travelers to pluck and eat some of the grain from a field. Note:

Deuteronomy 23:25, “When thou comest into the standing corn of thy neighbour, then thou mayest pluck the ears with thine hand; but thou shalt not move a sickle unto thy neighbour's standing corn.”

Matthew 12:5 Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless?

Matthew 12:5 Word Study on “Profane” BDAG says the Greek word βεβηλο ́ ω means, “to desecrate, profane.” This same Greek word is used only two times in the New Testament (Matthew 12:5, Acts 24:6). In Acts 24:6 the Jews accused Paul of profaning the Temple by bringing a Gentile into its inner courts.

Acts 24:6, “Who also hath gone about to profane the temple: whom we took, and would have judged according to our law.”

According to BDAG, the Greek word βεβηλο ́ ω is used often in the LXX (for example, see Leviticus 18:21; Leviticus 21:6, Isaiah 56:2, Exodus 20:13).

Leviticus 18:21, “And thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Molech, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the LORD.”

Leviticus 21:6, “They shall be holy unto their God, and not profane the name of their God: for the offerings of the LORD made by fire, and the bread of their God, they do offer: therefore they shall be holy.”

Isaiah 56:2, “Blessed is the man that doeth this, and the son of man that layeth hold on it; that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and keepeth his hand from doing any evil.”

Ezekiel 20:13, “But the house of Israel rebelled against me in the wilderness: they walked not in my statutes, and they despised my judgments, which if a man do, he shall even live in them; and my sabbaths they greatly polluted: then I said, I would pour out my fury upon them in the wilderness, to consume them.”

Comments There were a number of ways in which the Levitical priests profaned the Sabbath and were guiltless. For example, they offered the daily sacrifices on the Sabbath (Numbers 28:9) and they performed circumcision on the Sabbath (John 7:23). The Babylonian Talmud lists specific tasks not addressed in the Law that the priests are allowed to do on the Sabbath (see Erubin 10.11-15). [453] For example, the Talmud says, “One may unfold and fold up a curtain on the Sabbath,” and “a priest (ministering) who hurts his finger, may bind it up with reeds in the Temple (on the Sabbath), but this must not be done in the country. Squeezing out the blood is, in either place, prohibited.” [454]

[453] Donald A. Hagner, Matthew 1-138, in Word Biblical Commentary: 58 Volumes on CD-Rom, vol. 33A, eds. Bruce M. Metzger, David A. Hubbard and Glenn W. Barker, (Dallas: Word Inc., 2002), in Libronix Digital Library System, v. 3.0b [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp., 2004), comments on Matthew 12:5.

[454] Michael L. Rodkinson, New Edition of the Babylonian Talmud, vol. 3 (New York: New Talmud Publishing Company, 1902), 243, 247.

Numbers 28:9, “And on the sabbath day two lambs of the first year without spot, and two tenth deals of flour for a meat offering, mingled with oil, and the drink offering thereof:”

John 7:23, “If a man on the sabbath day receive circumcision, that the law of Moses should not be broken; are ye angry at me, because I have made a man every whit whole on the sabbath day?”

Matthew 12:7 But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless.

Matthew 12:7 Old Testament Quotes in the New Testament - This passage is a quote from Hosea 6:6:

Hosea 6:6, “For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.”

Comments - What God wanted was not sacrifices for the sake of performing a ritual. God wanted the people to offer these sacrifices as a way of expressing their love and devotion to Him. These offerings were opportunities to give God thanks and praise, and they were times to ask God forgiveness for their sins. It was a time that a person could give an offering in faith to God in order to receive greater blessings from Him, while providing the needs of the priests.

God desires mercy “more than” a particular sacrifice. God tells the children of Israel the same thing through Jeremiah:

Jeremiah 7:22-23, “For I spake not unto your fathers, nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices: But this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people: and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you.”

Matthew 12:8 For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day.

Matthew 12:9-14 Persecution over the Law: Rejection by Jewish Leaders for Healing On the Sabbath (Mark 3:1-6 , Luke 6:6-11 ) In Matthew 12:9-14 Jesus challenges the Pharisees because of healing a man with a withered hand on the Sabbath day.

Jesus Heals the Man With the Withered Hand - Note these insightful comments from Sadhu Singh regarding the story of the man with the withered hand. He explains that if the man had not obeyed the words of Jesus and refused to stretch out his hand, then Jesus could not have healed him.

“He who desires by prayer to obtain from God the blessing of a spiritual life must believe and obey without questioning. The man who came to Me with a withered hand, when I commanded him to stretch out his hand instantly obeyed, and so his hand became whole as the other (Matt. xii.10-13). But suppose instead of that instant obedience he had begun to argue and say, ‘How can I stretch out my hand? If I had been able to do that, why should I have come to Thee? First of all heal my hand, and then I shall be able to stretch it out.’ All this would have been considered very reasonable and to the point, but his hand would never have been healed. He who prays must believe and be obedient, and stretch out to Me in prayer his weak and withered hands, and then it will be for Me to give him spiritual life, and according to his need it shall be granted to him (Matt. xxi.22).” [455]

[455] Sadhu Sundar Singh, At the Master’s Feet, translated by Arthur Parker (London: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1922) [on-line]; accessed 26 October 2008; available from http://www.ccel.org/ccel/singh/feet.html; Internet, “III Prayer,” section 3, part 10.

R. W. Schambach tells the story of a time when he was preaching and the anointing fell upon him. He looked down at a lady who had her two legs amputated because of a disease who was sitting in a wheel chair in the front row. As he looked upon her, he saw two new legs on her body in the spirit. He shouted to the lady, “In the name of Jesus Christ rise up and walk.” She humbly looked up at him and replied, “But I can’t.” No sooner had she spoken than the vision left Schambach and the vision of her legs disappeared. She lost her opportunity for a miraculous healing. [456]

[456] R. W. Schambach, “Sermon,” (Schambach Ministries, Tyler, Texas.)

Matthew 12:14 Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him.

c) Fulfillment of Old Testament Prophecy (Matthew 12:15-21 ) - The response of Jesus Christ to persecutions by withdrawing Himself and continuing His public ministry to the people rather than opposing the Jewish leaders is a fulfillment of Isaiah 42:1-4.

Verses 1-50

Man’s Response to the Proclamation of the Kingdom of God Matthew 11:2 to Matthew 13:53 emphasizes Israel’s rejection of the various testimonies of the Gospel as well as the persecutions from religious leaders against those who serve in the Kingdom of God. [433] The narrative passage in Matthew 11:2 to Matthew 12:50 emphasizes the rejection of the various testimonies of John the Baptist and Jesus, of the Scriptures, and of physical miracles. In this passage of Scripture Jesus demonstrates to His disciples how to respond to persecutions. This rejection and the persecutions that followed arose not because of the messenger of God, but because the people were rejecting the testimonies that God had given to them so that they might believe and be saved. It appropriately follows Jesus’ commissioning and sending out of the twelve disciples in the previous passage. This passage tells us about His rejection by the Jewish people amidst His miracles and how He rebuked them for their hardness of hearts. Yet in the midst of rejection Jesus walked in meekness. We will see how Jesus faced doubt and rejection from His forerunner John the Baptist, from the cities of Israel, from the Pharisees, and from His family. In other words, Jesus faced rejection from all sectors of the Jewish society. This passage, which gives us an understanding of how the Kingdom of Heaven is received among men, prepares us for the third discourse in which Jesus teaches on the Parables of the Kingdom in Matthew 13:1-53 in order to explain how the message of the Kingdom is received and rejected in various ways by men. Because of this emphasis on rejecting and accepting the Gospel, this narrative material does not emphasis Jesus’ healing ministry, as did the material found in Matthew 8:1 to Matthew 9:38. However, it does take up the theme of Jesus’ discourse of Matthew 10:1 to Matthew 11:1 in which Jesus warned His disciples of persecutions and rejection by even their families (Matthew 10:34-39) as He Himself faced (Matthew 12:46-50). This material can be compared to the General Epistles of Hebrews, James, and 1 Peter in that they both deal with the perseverance of the saints amongst persecutions from without the Church.

[433] Benjamin Bacon identifies the theme of Matthew 11:1 to 13:53 as Israel’s blindness and rejection of the Gospel and its revelation “to ‘the little ones’ of Jesus’ spiritual Kingdom.” He says, “Hence Mt, at the close of his account of the heralding of the message by Jesus throughout Galilee, and his further dissemination of it through the mission of the Twelve to preach and to heal, can hardly do otherwise logically than to continue his story by an account of ‘the stumbling of Israel at the word’; a narrative whose complement is the reception of it by the remnant of the ‘people of the soil,’ who prove themselves the true kindred of Jesus by ‘hearing and doing the will of God.’” See Benjamin W. Bacon, Studies in Matthew (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1930), 376, 396; Grant R. Osborne, Matthew, in Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, ed. Clinton E. Arnold (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010), 411.

There are three Old Testament prophecies referred to in this division of Matthew’s Gospel. The first one is found in Matthew 12:17-21, which is a quote from Isaiah 42:1-4, and serves to reveal how Jesus ministered the Gospel with gentleness in the midst of persecution, reflecting the theme of this division of Matthew.

Matthew 12:17-21, “That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets. A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory. And in his name shall the Gentiles trust.”

The second prophecy is found in Matthew 13:14-15, which is a quote from Isaiah 6:9-10, which predicts the hardness of heart of the Jews to the preaching of the Gospel.

Matthew 13:14-15, “And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.”

Isaiah 6:9-10, “And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.”

The third prophecy is found in Matthew 13:34-35, which is a quote from Psalms 78:2, revealing how Jesus taught the multitudes inparables because they were not His true followers.

Matthew 13:34-35, “All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.”

Psalms 78:2, “I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old:”

These three fulfillments of Scripture support the emphasis of this division of Matthew’s Gospel, which is serving the Lord in the midst of persecutions from without the Church.

The section of Matthew emphasizing sanctification through perseverance from persecutions without (Matthew 11:2 to Matthew 13:53) closes with a transitional sentence that concludes each of the five discourses, telling us that Jesus had ended His teaching (Matthew 13:53).

Matthew 13:53, “And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these parables, he departed thence.”

Literary Evidence of a Common Theme between the Third Narrative Section and the Discourse that Follows There is literary evidence that the third narrative section shares a common theme with the discourse that follows. The first literary evidence of a common theme is found in the use of the Greek words σκανδαλι ́ ζω and σκα ́ νδαλον , key words Jesus uses in the opening of the third narrative section (Matthew 11:6), and three times during the third discourse, in the midst and at the closing of the third discourse (Matthew 11:21, 41, 57). [434] Jesus encounters offenses in the third narrative section (Matthew 11:6) and He teaches on offense in the discourse that follows (Matthew 13:21; Matthew 13:57). The second literary evidence is found in the words of Jesus when He says, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear,” a statement that is found in the opening passage of the third narrative section (Matthew 11:15), and twice during the third discourse, in the midst and at the closing of the third discourse (Matthew 13:15; Matthew 13:43). Both of these literary evidences reflect the common theme between the third narrative and the third discourse of the servant of God’s need to persevere in the faith in the midst of opposition to the Kingdom of Heaven.

[434] Christopher R. Smith, “Literary Evidences of a FiveFold Structure in the Gospel of Matthew,” in New Testament Studies 43 (1997): 546.

Sanctification: Perseverance: Numbers Versus the Third Discourse, which Deals with Persecutions from Without - The narrative passage in Matthew 11:2 to Matthew 12:50 emphasizes the many ways that people received, rejected and questioned the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. This passage, which gives us an understanding of how the Kingdom of Heaven is received among men, and it prepares us for the third discourse when Jesus teaches on the Parables in Matthew 13:1-52 in order to explain how persecutions from without accompany the preaching of the Gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven. This service, or work, of the Kingdom reminds us of the book of Numbers, which discusses the perseverance of the children of Israel in their wilderness journey. This narrative material in Matthew 11:2 to Matthew 12:40 tells us the manner in which Jesus preached the Gospel of the Kingdom. For this reason this passage tells us about His rejection by the Jewish people amidst His miracles and how He rebuked them for their hardness of hearts. Yet in the midst of rejection Jesus walked in meekness. This meekness in Christian service is the duty of the Levitical priesthood.

Outline Here is a proposed outline:

1. Narrative: Man’s Reactions to the King Matthew 11:2 to Matthew 12:50

2. Third Discourse: Parables of Man’s Reactions to Gospel Matthew 13:1-53

Verses 15-21

The Fulfillment of Old Testament Prophecy Regarding Man’s Response to the Kingdom of God When Jesus knew of the plans of the Jews to kill Him, He withdrew Himself in fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy (Matthew 12:15-21). The response of Jesus Christ to persecutions by withdrawing Himself and continuing His public ministry to the people rather than opposing the Jewish leaders is a fulfillment of Isaiah 42:1-4. The importance of this passage lies in the fact that this prophecy establishes the theme of narrative material found in Matthew 11:2 to Matthew 13:52 on man’s response to the Kingdom of God. This passage explains why Jesus did not try to make Himself known, but told many people whom He healed to not make Him known. The fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah 42:1-4 here says that Jesus will not quarrel and cause strife. So, here He withdraws from the Pharisees. He is not trying to have a loud, boisterous ministry. He will encourage and heal the weak as prophesied in verse 20 of this passage. So, He healed all of the sick and feeble. In the end, Jesus will fulfill the prophecy of justice and judgment. Ironically, the one released by the people at Jesus’ trial, Barabbas, had stirred up a rebellion and a revolution to the point of committing murder. Jesus, who was crucified, and thus showing the injustice of the people, had not strived like Barabbas, but conducted a peaceful ministry.

Matthew 12:15 But when Jesus knew it, he withdrew himself from thence: and great multitudes followed him, and he healed them all;

Matthew 12:15 Comments - After having angered the Jewish leaders over healing one individual on the Sabbath, Jesus withdrew himself and began to heal the multitudes, perhaps also on the Sabbath.

Jesus withdrew from a hostile, negative environment on numerous occasions. He first withdrew from Judea into Galilee when John the Baptist was cast into prison (Matthew 4:12). The people in His hometown of Nazareth tried to kill Him, and He supernaturally passed through the crowd, and moved His residence to Capernaum (Luke 4:30-31). He passed through hostile crowds miraculously on a number of other occasions (John 8:59; John 10:39). The people of the country of the Gergesenes asked Him to depart, and He did so (Matthew 8:34 to Matthew 9:1). He was persecuted while in Galilee and withdrew Himself (Matthew 12:14-15). He hid himself several times from those who were hostile (John 5:13; John 12:36). He stopped His public ministry in Judea because the Jewish leaders sought to kill Him (John 7:1). Jesus once escaped across the Jordan River because of persecution (John 10:39-40). At one point Jesus stopped His public ministry and withdrew Himself into the wilderness (John 11:53-54). Jesus taught His disciples to do the same (Matthew 10:23).

Matthew 4:12, “Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee;”

Luke 4:30-31, “But he passing through the midst of them went his way, And came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and taught them on the sabbath days.”

John 8:59, “Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.”

John 10:39, “Therefore they sought again to take him: but he escaped out of their hand,”

Matthew 8:34 to Matthew 9:1, “And, behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus: and when they saw him, they besought him that he would depart out of their coasts. And he entered into a ship, and passed over, and came into his own city.”

Matthew 12:14-15, “Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him. But when Jesus knew it, he withdrew himself from thence: and great multitudes followed him, and he healed them all;”

John 5:13, “And he that was healed wist not who it was: for Jesus had conveyed himself away, a multitude being in that place.”

John 12:36, “While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light. These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them.”

John 7:1, “After these things Jesus walked in Galilee: for he would not walk in Jewry, because the Jews sought to kill him.”

John 10:39-40, “Therefore they sought again to take him: but he escaped out of their hand, And went away again beyond Jordan into the place where John at first baptized; and there he abode.”

John 11:53-54, “Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death. Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews; but went thence unto a country near to the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim, and there continued with his disciples.”

Matthew 10:23, “But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.”

Each time Jesus saved His own life, He knew that His time was not yet, and so He deliberately avoided being killed (John 7:30; John 8:20); for this power was in His hand and no man could take His life. However, when His time had come, He willingly gave Himself over into the hands of man (John 10:17-18).

John 7:30, “Then they sought to take him: but no man laid hands on him, because his hour was not yet come.”

John 8:20, “These words spake Jesus in the treasury, as he taught in the temple: and no man laid hands on him; for his hour was not yet come.”

John 10:17-18, “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.”

Matthew 12:15 Comments Testimonies of Jesus’ Extesive Public Healing Ministry - Jesus Christ ministered healing to the multitudes throughout His earthly ministry, as each narrative section of Matthew’s Gospel testifies. Jesus began His public by healing the sick in the first (Matthew 4:23) and second (Matthew 8:1 to Matthew 9:38) narrative sections, and Matthew records similar accounts during His travels in the third (Matthew 12:15), fourth (Matthew 15:29-30), and fifth (Matthew 19:2) narrative sections.

Matthew 4:23, “And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.”

Matthew 12:15, “But when Jesus knew it, he withdrew himself from thence: and great multitudes followed him, and he healed them all;”

Matthew 15:29-30, “And Jesus departed from thence, and came nigh unto the sea of Galilee; and went up into a mountain, and sat down there. 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 19:2, “And great multitudes followed him; and he healed them there.”

The ten miracles recorded in Matthew 8-9 demonstrated the manner in which Jesus healed as a way of training His disciples to go forth in the next chapter to do the same. Each miracle that Jesus performed followed the pattern of healing recorded in Matthew 8-9. In other words, these healing were not strickly a divine work without the involvedment of man’s will to receive. The healing of the multitudes that Jesus performed followed the same distinct principles of healing time and again that Jesus demonstrated to His disciples in Matthew 8-9. Matthew simply chose ten distinct miracles in order to prepare the New Testament church to follow in the same footsteps and training as the Twelve.

Matthew 12:16 And charged them that they should not make him known:

Matthew 12:17-21 Old Testament Quotes in the New Testament Matthew 12:17-21 is a quote from Isaiah 42:1-4.

Isaiah 42:1-4, “ Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth . He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law .”

Matthew appears to quote from the LXX rather than the Hebrew text; for the Hebrew text of Isaiah 42:4 uses the word “isles,” while Matthew 12:2 uses the word “Gentiles,” which is used in the LXX.

Brenton's English Translation of Isaiah 42:1-4 in the Septuagint, “ Jacob is my servant, I will help him: Israel is my chosen, my soul has accepted him; I have put my Spirit upon him; he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not cry, nor lift up [his voice], nor shall his voice be heard without. A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench; but he shall bring forth judgment to truth . He shall shine out, and shall not be discouraged, until he have set judgment on the earth: and in his name shall the Gentiles trust .”

In addition, Matthew’s quote is slightly shorter than the LXX or the Hebrew text. Therefore, Kahle believes that Matthew quoted from an ancient translation of the LXX which differs from the Christian LXX that we know of today. [457]

[457] F. F. Bruce, The Books and the Parchments (Old Tappan, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1963), 154.

Matthew 12:17 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying,

Matthew 12:17 Comments - Comments - The phrase ἵνα πληρωθῇ (that it might be fulfilled) is unique to the Gospel of Matthew, being used nine times (Matthew 1:22; Matthew 2:15; Matthew 2:17; Matthew 2:23; Matthew 4:14; Matthew 8:17; Matthew 12:17; Matthew 13:35; Matthew 21:4), with similar phrases being used loosely three times in other places in Matthew (Matthew 13:14; Matthew 26:56; Matthew 27:9). [458] The reason this phrase is unique to the Gospel of Matthew is because the primary theme of this Gospel is the testimony of the Old Testament Scriptures, which states that Jesus Christ is the coming Messiah, who will reign as King of the Jews. Thus, the Gospel of Matthew continually declares that Jesus Christ fulfills Old Testament Messianic passages.

[458] A tenth Matthean ἵνα πληρωθῇ formula can be found in Matthew 27:35 in the KJV. However, the rules of modern textual criticism require the omission this phrase from the UBS 4 because it is not found in the earliest Greek manuscripts. Thus, only nine ἵνα πληρωθῇ formulae will be considered in this commentary.

Matthew 12:18 Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles.

Matthew 12:19 He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets.

Matthew 12:20 A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory.

Matthew 12:20 Comments - In her book Caught Up Into Heaven, Marietta Davis sees a vision of Mercy contending with Justice. She sees how Justice was about to descend upon a frail human and condemn his soul to hell, but Mercy came and pleads for this poor soul, saying:

“‘Here, O God, is a fallen being. Sin is the violation of Your law. This sinner has presumed upon Your government and has touched the flaming sword (Genesis 3:24) with impious hands; he has dared vengeance, trifled with Your will, and contended with eternal and irrevocable justice. He has fallen. He lies bruised, mangles, and dying. Yet, Ol God, You have created him an immortal being. His is intellectual and therefore accountable. He is spiritual, and because of sin he lies on the verge of a bottomless abyss, where, if he falls, he will feel immortal pangs and dwell in unremitting woe. The reed is bruised, but not entirely broken; the flickering blaze of the smoking flax, though expiring, still exists . (Isaiah 42:3) Mercy is my name. Mercy is an attribute of Your throne. To You, O God, belong Justice and Mercy. Let Your love descend, O Eternal One! And you, Justice, spare this fallen being! Spare him, though he has sinned and has traded his eternal good for a morsel!’ (Hebrews 12:16-17)” [459]

[459] Marietta Davis, Caught Up Into Heaven (New Kensington, Pennsylvania: Whitaker House, 1982), 110-1.

She says the phrase “a bruised reed He will not break” means that He will not harm the helpless and “the smoking flax He will not quench” means that He will not extinguish the life or hope of man. Matthew 12:20 implies that Jesus Christ will come to man who is at the edge of his own destruction, weak and unable to help himself, and in His mercy He will rescue him. Jesus did not turn down anyone who came to him with a need. He welcomed all of suffering humanity.

Matthew 12:21 And in his name shall the Gentiles trust.

Verses 22-45

The Rejection of the Testimony of Miracles (God’s Testimony to Man’s Physical Body) Matthew 12:22-45 offers two pericopae that reveal how the religious leaders had rejected the testimony of Jesus’ miracles when He healed the blind demoniac (Matthew 12:22-37) and when they asked Him to perform a miracle for them (Matthew 12:38-45). These miracles of healing men’s physical bodies testified to those who were experienced the healing and to those who saw it that Jesus Christ is the Messiah.

Outline Here is a proposed outline:

1. Persecution over Miracles Matthew 12:22-37

2. Persecution over Miracles Matthew 12:38-45

3. Jesus Declares the Family of the Kingdom Matthew 12:46-50

Matthew 12:22-37 Persecution over Miracles: The Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit by the Pharisees (Mark 3:20-30 , Luke 11:14-23 ; Luke 12:10 ) In Matthew 12:22-37 Jesus heals the blind demoniac, after which the Pharisees reject this miracle. Jesus responds to their accusations that He was casting out demons by Beelzebub, the prince of the devils by telling them that they were blaspheming against the Holy Spirit. Thus, a person blasphemes the Holy Spirit by crediting His office and ministry to the works of Satan. Jesus builds His case of judgment against them by explaining that they will be judged by their words spoken against Him and the Holy Spirit.

Matthew 12:27 And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? therefore they shall be your judges.

Matthew 12:27 Comments - Apparently the Jews had those whose duty or work involved casting out devils, which Jesus refers to as “your children.” Note Acts 19:13, “vagabond Jesus, exorcists.”

Acts 19:13, “Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth.”

Matthew 12:28 But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you.

Matthew 12:28 “But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God” Comments - The Scriptures tell us that Jesus Christ cast spirits out with His Word. But it also says that He cast them out by the Spirit of God. This means that Jesus operated in the gifts of discerning of spirits or by a word of knowledge to cast out demons.

In one of the major visions that Kenneth Hagin experienced in his life, the Lord Jesus used the story of the girl possessed with a spirit of divination to teach him the important of casting out demons by the Spirit of God. Hagin explains that a believer has authority over Satan any time, but he does not have authority over the will of other people. Each person must choose to be set free from the powers of darkness. Jesus explained that this girl followed Paul and Silas around Philippi for “many days” crying, “These men are the servants of the most high God.” Jesus Christ asked Hagin, “Do you know why Paul did not deal with that spirit the first day?” Hagin replied, “No, I really don’t. I’ve wondered about it. Why didn’t Paul, an apostle, a man of God, a man of authority, just take authority over that evil spirit the first day?” Jesus said, “He had to wait for the manifestation of the Spirit; he had to wait until the Spirit of God gave him discerning of spirits.” [460]

[460] Kenneth Hagin, The Believer’s Authority (Tulsa, Oklahoma: Faith Library Publications, c1984, 1992), 58; Kenneth Hagin, I Believe In Visions (Tulsa, Oklahoma: Faith Library Publications, c1984, 1986), 72-3.

We can cast Satan out of our lives and out of our home anytime we choose because we have authority over him 24-hours a day. But we must be led by the Spirit when casting demons out of others. We must operate with a word of knowledge or discerning of spirits like Paul, or this person must be willing to be delivered.

Matthew 12:31 Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.

Matthew 12:31 Scripture Reference - Note:

1 Timothy 1:13, “Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.”

Matthew 12:32 And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.

Matthew 12:36-37 Comments - Idle word - Note that Jesus was very much to the point and terse in His conversation. He was not a wordy speaker.

Matthew 12:38-45 Persecution over Miracles: A Wicked Generation Seeks a Sign (Matthew 12:38-45 ) In Matthew 12:38-45 Jesus is asked to perform a miracle. In response, Jesus rebukes the religious leaders by telling that them a wicked heart seeks a sign since they have rejected the signs and testimony of Jesus Christ.

Matthew 12:38 Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee.

Matthew 12:38 Comments What did the scribes and Pharisees want Jesus to prove with a sign? The people had just declared that Jesus was the Messiah in Matthew 12:23 when He healed the deaf and dumb man (Matthew 12:22), and this had offended the Jewish leaders. They would not have believed an addition sign had Jesus worked another miracle, for they were trying to prove Him false in the presence of the people.

Matthew 12:22-23, “Then was brought unto him one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb: and he healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw. And all the people were amazed, and said, Is not this the son of David?”

Matthew 12:39 But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas:

Matthew 12:40 For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

Matthew 12:40 Comments We know this to be a reference to the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. There are very few Scripture references to the three days that Jesus spent in the heart of the earth (Ephesians 4:8-10, 1 Peter 3:18-19; 1 Peter 4:6). Matthew 12:40 serves as the clearest evidence that Jesus visited Hell prior to His resurrection. Note

Ephesians 4:8-10, “Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)”

1 Peter 3:18-19, “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;”

1 Peter 4:6, “For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.”

Matthew 12:39-40 Comments Jesus Will Be a Sign for the Jews - The Jews were seeking a sign, so the resurrection of Jesus Christ will be a sign for all of those who do not believe in Him. Note:

1 Corinthians 1:22-23, “For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;”

Matthew 12:43 When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none.

Matthew 12:43 Comments - Jack Hayford says that he asked the Lord what the words “dry places” means, and the Lord told him that it refers to any place where the Spirit of God is not present or flowing. [461]

[461] Jack Hayford, “Spirit Formed with Jack Hayford,” on Trinity Broadcasting Network (Santa Ana, California), television program.

Matthew 12:44 Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished.

Matthew 12:45 Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.

Matthew 12:45 Comments - The number seven always represents divine judgment.

Genesis 4:15, “And the LORD said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold . And the LORD set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.”

Leviticus 4:6, “And the priest shall dip his finger in the blood, and sprinkle of the blood seven times before the LORD , before the vail of the sanctuary.”

Leviticus 26:18, “And if ye will not yet for all this hearken unto me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins .”

Leviticus 26:21, “And if ye walk contrary unto me, and will not hearken unto me; I will bring seven times more plagues upon you according to your sins .”

Leviticus 26:24, “Then will I also walk contrary unto you, and will punish you yet seven times for your sins .”

Leviticus 26:28, “Then I will walk contrary unto you also in fury; and I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins .”

Deuteronomy 28:25, “The LORD shall cause thee to be smitten before thine enemies: thou shalt go out one way against them, and flee seven ways before them : and shalt be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth.”

Psalms 79:12, “And render unto our neighbours sevenfold into their bosom their reproach, wherewith they have reproached thee, O Lord.”

Daniel 3:19, “Then was Nebuchadnezzar full of fury, and the form of his visage was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego: therefore he spake, and commanded that they should heat the furnace one seven times more than it was wont to be heated .”

Also, seven of Saul's sons died for the sins of one man:

2 Samuel 21:6, “ Let seven men of his sons be delivered unto us , and we will hang them up unto the LORD in Gibeah of Saul, whom the LORD did choose. And the king said, I will give them.”

In the New Testament, Jesus said that a man who backslides would have seven more demons enter him after being delivered from one demon.

Matthew 12:45, “Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself , and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.”

Peter sought an answer from Jesus for forgiveness, in the place of judgment. Peter suggested seven times:

Matthew 18:21-22, “Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times ? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.”

God uses seven years to judge nations and kings of major sins:

Genesis 41:30, “And there shall arise after them seven years of famine ; and all the plenty shall be forgotten in the land of Egypt; and the famine shall consume the land;”

2 Samuel 24:13, “So Gad came to David, and told him, and said unto him, Shall seven years of famine come unto thee in thy land ? or wilt thou flee three months before thine enemies, while they pursue thee? or that there be three days' pestilence in thy land? now advise, and see what answer I shall return to him that sent me.”

King Nebuchadnezzar was judged for seven years:

Daniel 4:16, “Let his heart be changed from man's, and let a beast's heart be given unto him; and let seven times pass over him .”

God uses seven days to judge individuals of minor sins and uncleanness in the Scriptures.

Leviticus 12:2, “Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a woman have conceived seed, and born a man child: then she shall be unclean seven days ; according to the days of the separation for her infirmity shall she be unclean.”

Leviticus 15:24, “And if any man lie with her at all, and her flowers be upon him, he shall be unclean seven days ; and all the bed whereon he lieth shall be unclean.”

God's judgment on the earth in the book of Revelation comes in sevens:

Revelation 15:8, “And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from his power; and no man was able to enter into the temple, till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled .”

Therefore, it appears that a man will be possessed with seven more demons as an act of God's judgment, as He allows these demons to come back into a man because of his disobedience.

Matthew 12:43-45 Comments The Unclean Spirits How does the discussion of the wandering of unclean spirits logically follow after the previous topic of the sign of the resurrection of Jesus Christ? If we look back at the beginning of this narrative scene, this confrontation between the scribes and Pharisees was sparked by the exorcism of an unclean spirit when Jesus healed the blind and dumb man (Matthew 12:22). He had gone through their cities and set many free from demonic possession as one sign that He was the Messiah, and may Jews were rejecting this sign. Jesus now warns those Jews in the nation of Israel that reject Him after He has delivered them from demonic possession and healed them that their fate will be worst afterwards than before they were set free. They will be seven times more bound by demonic possession and sins than before. In other words, the Jews who reject Him will be in worse condition than before Jesus began His public ministry.

Verses 46-50

Jesus Declares the Family of the Kingdom (Mark 3:31-35 , Luke 8:19-21 ) - In Matthew 12:46-50 Jesus explains that the true members of the Kingdom of Heaven are those who do God’s will. The comment that a true child of the Kingdom does the will of God reflects man’s physical offering service to the Lord. Jesus responds to man’s rejection of the testimony of His miracles by explaining the distinction between those children of the Kingdom of Heaven and those who are not (Matthew 12:46-50). While the Jewish leaders rejected the works of Jesus, He explains that the true children of God are those who are doing the will of God just as He Himself is doing in His public ministry. This pericope also addresses the issue of rejection and persecution that Jesus has faced throughout Matthew 11-12.

The Response of Jesus’ Family towards His Public Ministry - When we read in John 7:1-9 how Jesus’ brothers mocked Him and made fun of His ministry, it becomes clear that His brothers were not an encouragement to His ministry, but rather a discouragement. However, there is much evidence to show that His mother Mary remained devoted to Him throughout His earthly ministry. We see her devotion at the beginning of His ministry with the wedding of Cana (John 2:1-11) and at the end of His ministry with her presence at the foot of the Cross (John 19:25).

Jesus’ Love for His Family The incident in Matthew 12:46-50 in which His mother and brothers came to Him and He told the people that everyone who serves God is His and brother and sister and mother. He was in no way rejecting His earthly family. He will later tell the crowds to honor their father and mother (Matthew 19:19). While Jesus hung on the Cross for all of mankind, He gave His final act of love towards in individual by handing His dear mother over to the care of John the apostle. Therefore, He is telling the crowds in the Gospel of Matthew that there is a much bigger family in the Kingdom of Heaven than one has ever imagined. The family of God will one day fully assemble in Heaven, bound together in love as close as any earthly family. Yet, we must live this earthly life aware of God’s love for all of His children and our need to recognize that bond of love within the community of believers. [462]

[462] Paul Crouch, “Yes, It’s All in the Family,” in Trinity Broadcasting Network Monthly Newsletter, vol. 39 number 9 (June 2012).

Matthew 19:19, “Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”

John 19:26-27, “When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.”

Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Matthew 12". Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghe/matthew-12.html. 2013.
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