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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and Homiletical

Matthew 9

Verses 1-8

IV
Christ healing the demoniacs who profess His name; banished from Gadara; He restores the paralytic, and is accused of blasphemy,—or, the blessed working of the Lord despite the contradiction of the kingdom of darkness.

Matthew 8:28-34, Matthew 9:1-8

( Matthew 9:1-8 the Gospel for the 19th Sunday after Trinity.—Parallels: Mark 5:1-20; Luke 8:26-39, Mark 2:1-12; Luke 5:17-26.)

28And when he was [had] come to the other side, into the country of the Gergesenes [Gadarenes],25 there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man [one] might [could, or was able to, ὥστε μὴ ἰσχύειν] passby that way. 29And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee,30Jesus,26 thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time? And there was a good way off from them a herd of many swine feeding. 31So the devils besought him, saying, If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away [send us away]27 intothe herd of swine. 32And he said unto them, Go. And when they were come out, they went into the herd of swine [into the swine];28 and, behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently [rushed] down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters.33And they that kept them [the herdsmen, οἱ βόσκοντες] fled, and went their ways into the city, and told every thing, and what was befallen to [had befallen] the possessedof [with] the devils. 34And, 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 [borders].

Matthew 9:1 And he entered into a ship, and passed over, and came into his own city. 2And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus, seeing their faith, said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be3[are] forgiven29 thee. And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This4man blasphemeth. And Jesus, knowing30 their thoughts, said, Wherefore think ye evil5in your hearts? For whether [which] is easier, to say, Thy sins be [are] forgiven thee;or to say, Arise, and walk? 6But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thybed, and go31 unto thine [to thy] house. 7And he arose, and departed to his house. 8But when the multitudes saw it, they marvelled [feared]32, and glorified God, which [who] had given such power unto men.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

Matthew 8:28. On the discussion about the readings, Γεργεσηνῶν, Γαδαοηνῶν, Γερασηνῶν, comp. the Commentaries.—Bleek (Beiträge zur Evangelienkritik, 1:26): “From Orig. (in Joh. Tom. 6:24), we may infer with tolerable certainty, that, at the time of that Father, Γεργεσηνῶν was not found in any of the MSS. of the Gospels then current. He only mentions it as a conjecture, that this may have been an older reading. From that time it seems to have been introduced into manuscripts. Origen found that the common reading was Γερασηνῶν, that of Γαδαρηνῶν also occurring. The change of the former into the latter word is easily accounted for, but not the reverse. Hence the writer has always been of opinion, that Γερασηνῶν, which Lachmann also has adopted, is the correct reading in all the three Gospels. But as the town of Gerasa, in Arabia, could not possibly be meant, we suppose that the name was incorrectly written by the Evangelists, and that they probably meant the town of Gergesa, as Origen suggests.” Accordingly, we drop the reading Γεργεσηνῶν, and only retain thus much, that Origen was exegetically right in maintaining that Jesus landed in the district of the Gergesenes, whose name at least (Γεργεσαῖοι, Genesis 15:21; Deuteronomy 7:1; Joshua 24:11) is mentioned by Josephus (Ant. i. 6, 2). But the MSS. are divided between the readings Gadara and Gerasa. Hence, judging from the circumstances of this narrative, we are warranted in fixing upon the adjoining Gadara, which was the capital of Peræa, rather than on the distant Gerasa, which lay on the eastern boundary of Peræa, and indeed was considered by some geographers to have been situate in Arabia. So also Winer and Meyer. Besides, the expulsion of the Lord is represented as an event of considerable importance, which would not have been the case had He been banished from Gerasa, and not from the capital of Peræa. Expulsion from a village by the sea-shore would only have induced Him to go farther inland; but banishment from the capital of the district rendered at least a temporary removal absolutely necessary. The pagan character of the district (swine, raging demons) may have led to the evangelical tradition, by which the scene of this narrative was transferred from Gadara to Gerasa. Gadara, the capital of Peræa (Joseph. Bell. Jud. iv. 8, 3), situated to the southeast of the southern end of the Lake of Gennesareth, south of the river Hieromax, sixty stadia from Tiberias, upon a mountain, inhabited chiefly by Gentiles (according to Seetzen and Burckhardt). It is supposed to have been the modern Omkeis (but comp. Ebrard, who places Gadara only one hour from the lake). See Winer and the Encyclops. and von Raumer’s Palestine. On the eastern shore of the lake, comp. Ritter’s Palestine. Ebrard suggests, that there had been a village called Gerasa in the neighborhood of Gadara. Euseb. Onomasticon refers to such a village under the article Gergesa, without, however, pronouncing decidedly on the point.

Two possessed with devils.—Mark and Luke speak only of one. Strauss and de Wette hold, that the account of Matthew is the authentic narrative; Weisse and others prefer that of Mark and Luke. Ebrard suggests, that Matthew joined the account of the possessed at Gadara with that in Mark 1:23; others fancy, that our Evangelist is in the habit of speaking of two individuals when there was only one. Meyer leaves the difficulty unsolved; while Augustine, Calvin, and Chrysostom suppose that one of the demoniacs is specially mentioned, as the principal personage and the greater sufferer. This idea is confirmed by the consideration, that two demoniacs would not have associated, unless the one had been dependent upon the other. For the details of the narrative, the parallel passages in the other Gospels must be consulted.

Coming out of the tombs.—This was their abode, the only one left them, after they had withdrawn from human supervision and society. We conjecture that they chose this haunt not merely from melancholy, but rather from a morbid craving for the terrible. These tombs were either natural or artificial caves in the rocks, or built in the ground. The calcareous mountain on which Gadara was situated, was specially suited for such sepulchres. Even Epiphanius (adv. Hœres. i. 131) mentions these rocky caves near Gadara, which were called πολυάνδρια and τύμβοι.

Matthew 8:29. What have we to do with Thee? מָה לָנוּ וָלָךְ, 2 Samuel 16:10, etc. Grotius remarks ad loc.: “Hoc si ex usu Latini sermonis interpreteris, contemtum videtur inducere. Ita enim Latini aiunt: Quid tibi mecum est? At Hebrœis aliud significat, nimirum cur mihi molestiam exhibes?”33 The ordinary consciousness of the demoniacs was always affected by, and mixed up with, their morbid consciousness. Hence their power of anticipation was morbidly developed. By virtue of this faculty they now recognized the Divine power and majesty of the Lord (comp. Luke 4:34). Hence the question, whether πρὸκαι ρο ῦ means: before the judgment of the Messiah, as de Wette and Meyer suppose. Perhaps they also anticipated that the work of Jesus in the district would be interrupted by them, and that it was not ready for the reception of the Messiah.

To torment us.—The apparent contradiction in the conduct of the demoniacs affords a striking confirmation of the truthfulness of this narrative. On the one hand, they seem to have felt the power of the Lord; they hastened to meet Him; their fierceness was kept in check, and they humbly entreated. But on the other hand, they identified themselves with the demons under whose power they were; they, so to speak, appeared as their representatives, and in that capacity complained that Jesus was about to torment them by healing the demoniacs,—i. e., that He was about to send the demons to the place of torment. De Wette: “Torment us,” by disturbing our stay and rule in man.

Matthew 8:30. A herd of many swine.—The Jews were prohibited from keeping swine, which were unclean animals (Lightfoot, 315; Eisenmenger, Entdektes Judenthum, i. 704). The herd must therefore have belonged to pagans, or else have been kept for purposes of traffic. In any case, it might serve as evidence of the legal uncleanness of the people, and of their essentially Gentile disposition.

Matthew 8:31. Probably the request was expressed in such terms as “Send us, ἀπόστειλον ἡμᾶς,” but the assent of the Lord was couched in the form of a permission, or even of a sentence of banishment. Hence the other reading of the Received Text. The request shows that these demons were antinomian, not Pharisaical; hence their choice of the swine. Possibly, there was also the malicious design latent, in this manner to put an end to the work of the Lord in the district. But in that case, the compliance of the Lord must be regarded as an evidence that at that time the awakening of terror was a sufficient effect. Lastly, the request of the demons implies that they were many (Meyer), which indeed is expressly mentioned in Mark and Luke.

Matthew 8:32. Go, ὑπάγετε.—The emphasis rests on the command to go. Strauss and others have raised an objection, on the ground that Jesus here interfered with the property of others. In reply, Ebrard appeals to the divinity and the absolute power of Christ. He also reminds us of the casting out of those who bought and sold in the temple; which, however, is scarcely a case in point, as every Jew might claim the right of reproving and opposing open and daring iniquity. Probably the conduct of Christ, in the case of so manifest a contravention of Mosaic ordinances, might be vindicated on the same ground, as simply the privilege of every zealous Israelite.34 But the text does not oblige us to suppose that Jesus interfered at all with the here of swine. He neither administered justice, nor enforced police regulations, nor took oversight of the herds of swine of Gadara. His only object was to cure the demoniacs, which He did by commanding the demons simply to go. Other objections—such as, that the demons would have acted foolishly by driving the swine into the sea—are scarcely worth repeating. Any such difficulty would arise from the false assumption that demons can never be stupid. It must be admitted that certain morbid states, such as derangement of the nervous system, madness, idiocy, raving, etc., formed the natural substratum of demoniac possessions. Hence there is a marked difference between the possessed, and those who, like Judas and the Pharisees, voluntarily surrendered themselves to the power of evil, as there is also between the demons themselves, and Satan, or between the renunciation of Satan in Christian baptism, and exorcism,—a rite which originally was only applied in the case of the possessed, and only introduced into the ordinary ritual of baptism and confirmation of catechumens generally when spiritual knowledge was obscured in the Church. The demoniacs were destitute of freedom, not merely on account of the psychical ailment under which they labored, but because, while thus suffering, they were possessed by unclean spirits (πνεύματα ). The idea of bodily possession, or the indwelling of the evil spirit in the physical frame of the diseased, was merely the popular notion. The main point was, that they were under the power of some special demoniac influence, or of a number of such influences, which proceeded from real demons, and were so strong, that the persons possessed identified themselves in their own minds with the demons. But it is quite possible that such influences may have proceeded not merely from the kingdom of Satan, in the narrowest sense, but also from the spirits of the departed. Hence Josephus (De Bello Jud. vii. 6, 3) held, that the demons were the spirits of wicked men; an opinion which was shared by some of the oldest of the Fathers, such as Justin Martyr and Athenagoras. Tertullian was the first to turn the current of opinion on the subject, and ultimately, on the authority of Chrysostom, the old idea of the spirits of departed and lost men was discarded, and that of devils adopted. But a closer inquiry into the character of sympathetic influences will show, that while the question, whence these demoniac influences proceeded, is of secondary importance, such influences—even to literal bodily possession—are quite possible, whether the party affected was conscious of them or not. From this it follows, that a demoniac might feel himself under the influence of a whole legion of unclean spirits, as, from the account in the other Gospels, appears to have been the case in the present instance. Hence we must beware of the common mistake, of putting the guilt of the demoniacs on the same level with that of wilful slaves of Satan. In our view, the blame attachable to such persons varied from the minimum, in the case of idiots, to a maximum. The common characteristic of all was cowardice,—a cowardly surrender of a weakened and lowered consciousness to wicked influences. The same remarks apply to the moral aspect of madness generally; and we would adopt the idea, that all madness was connected with a kind of demoniac influence, rather than the view, that the demoniacs of Scripture were merely lunatics, or even that of older orthodox interpreters, who regarded them as a class of persons possessed by the devil,—God allowing it at the time of Christ, and then only, for the purpose of glorifying His name. We do not, however, deny, that at that period, when all human corruption had reached its climax, these demoniac possessions also appeared in a more full and patent manner. But if we consider that the evil primarily depended upon moral cowardice and non-resistance to evil, we shall understand all the better the method of cure adopted by the Lord. The thunderbolt of His power and divine rebuke would once more kindle the ray of life and strength in the soul, fill the spirits who possessed the demoniac with fear, and thus break the fetters by which they held their victims. It snapped, so to speak, the connection between the diseased mind, deprived of its freedom, and the demon; while at the same time the soul was brought under the influence of the Divine Being. Such was the deliverance from the δαίμων, who, although a personal being, is designated as δαιμόνιον, in allusion to the impersonality of the relationship.

They went into the herd of swine.—Of course the demons, not the demoniacs. The commotion in the herd, by which they rushed down a steep place into the sea, is readily accounted for from the well-known sympathy existing among gregarious animals. If one of the herd was seized with terror, all the others would be affected. Probably the horse is, of all animals, most liable to sudden fright, especially from spectral apparitions; but swine are also subject to such wild frights (comp. Scheitlin’s Thierseelenkunde, vol. ii. 486). Perhaps the reason why swine were Levitically unclean, may have been not merely their outward conformation, but their susceptibility for impure psychical impressions. The circumstance, that the demons went into the swine, seems indeed mysterious; but the fright of these animals arose probably from the last terrible paroxysm, which ordinarily accompanied the healing of the possessed (Mark 1:26; Luke 4:35; Mark 9:26, etc.).

Όρμᾷν, cum impetu ferri, irruere, Acts 19:29.—Olshausen suggests, that the demons drove down the herd; Henneberg, Neander, and others, that they were impelled by an unknown, but accidental cause; while Meyer regards this as a mythical addition. We prefer leaving it unexplained, as belonging to the mysterious connection between the world of spirit and nature.

Matthew 8:34. The whole city.—For the moment, the terror produced by this miracle proved even stronger than the indignation excited by the loss sustained. Accordingly, as the heathen were wont to go in solemn procession to the altars of the gods in order to avert calamities, so the people of Gadara went out to meet Christ, humbly beseeching Him to depart from their coasts. They evidently feared, lest, if He remained, they should sustain yet greater damage. The cure of two furious demoniacs, involving the loss of a herd of swine, appears a calamity in a district where swine have their keepers, but men are left uncared for. Jesus departs; but those who have been restored are left behind—more especially he who would fain have followed Him—to bear witness it Decapolis of the power and grace of Christ.

Footnotes:

[25] Matthew 8:28.—Γαδαρηνῶν according to B., C., M., al. Griesbach, Scholz, Tischendorf [Tregelles, Alford, Conant].—Γεργεσηνῶν C. codd. minusc., versions, Origen.—Γερασηνῶν, the ruling lectio at the time of Origen; several ancient versions, Lachmann. [Dr. Lange reads Gadarenes. Cod. Sinait.: γαζορηνων. See Com.—]

[26] Matthew 8:29.—Ἰησοῦ is omitted in B., C., L. [Cod. Sinait.], etc. Borrowed from Mark 5:7; Luke 8:28.

[27] Matthew 8:31.—Ἀπόστειλον ἠμᾶς, in Cod. B., [Cod. Sinait.], most of the versions, Griesbach, Lachmann, Tischendorf Tregelles, Alford, Conant]. The lectio recepta, ἐπίτρεψον ἡμῖν , is probably taken from Luke 8:32, and explanatory.

[28] Matthew 8:32.—Εἰς τοὺς χοίρους, B., C., [Cod. Sinait.], Lachmann [for εἰς τὴν ]. Probably taken from the parallel passages.

[29]Ch. 9, Matthew 8:2.—[Ἀφέωνται is the indicative, either the present tense and equivalent to ἀφῶνται (as Homer uses ἀφέῃ for ἀφῇ), or more probably the perf. pass. (Doric form) for ἀφεῖνται, remissa sunt. Comp. Winer, Grammat., etc., 6th Germ. ed., 1855, p. 74. Lachmann and Tregelles read ἀφίενται, remittuntur, with Cod. B., Cod. Sinait., and the Latin Vulgate.—P. S.]

[30] Matthew 8:4.—Lachmann, following B., M., reads εἰδώς instead of ἰσών of the Received Text.

[31] Matthew 8:6.—[Cod. Sinait. reads πορεύου, for ὕπαγε.—P. S.]

[32] Matthew 8:8.—Ἐφοβήθησαν, they feared, is much better supported than ἐθαύμασον, they marvelled. [It is sustained by the newly discovered Cod. Sinaitces and adopted in all the modern critical editions, except the Gr. Test. of Stier, and Wordsworth who adhere to the Received Text.—P. S.]

[33][Comp. Comment. on John 2:4. where Christ uses this phrase in speaking to His mother.—P. S.]

[34][Dr. Alford thus disposes of this difficulty: “The destruction of the swine is not for a moment to be thought of in the matter, as if that were an act repugnant to the merciful character of our Lord’s miracles. It finds its parallel in the cursing of the fig-tree ( Matthew 21:17-22); and we may well think that, if God has appointed so many animals daily to be slaughtered for the sustenance of men’s bodies, He may also be pleased to destroy animal life when He sees fit for the liberation or instruction of their souls. Besides, if the confessedly far greater evil of the possession of men by evil spirits, and all the misery thereupon attendant, was permitted in God’s Inscrutable purposes, surely much more this lesser one. Whether there may have been special reasons in this case, such as the contempt of the Mosaic law by the keepers of the swine, we have no means of judging; but it is at least possible.”—P. S.]

Verses 1-8

IV
Christ healing the demoniacs who profess His name; banished from Gadara; He restores the paralytic, and is accused of blasphemy,—or, the blessed working of the Lord despite the contradiction of the kingdom of darkness.

Matthew 8:28-34, Matthew 9:1-8

( Matthew 9:1-8 the Gospel for the 19th Sunday after Trinity.—Parallels: Mark 5:1-20; Luke 8:26-39, Mark 2:1-12; Luke 5:17-26.)

28And when he was [had] come to the other side, into the country of the Gergesenes [Gadarenes],25 there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man [one] might [could, or was able to, ὥστε μὴ ἰσχύειν] passby that way. 29And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee,30Jesus,26 thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time? And there was a good way off from them a herd of many swine feeding. 31So the devils besought him, saying, If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away [send us away]27 intothe herd of swine. 32And he said unto them, Go. And when they were come out, they went into the herd of swine [into the swine];28 and, behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently [rushed] down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters.33And they that kept them [the herdsmen, οἱ βόσκοντες] fled, and went their ways into the city, and told every thing, and what was befallen to [had befallen] the possessedof [with] the devils. 34And, 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 [borders].

Matthew 9:1 And he entered into a ship, and passed over, and came into his own city. 2And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus, seeing their faith, said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be3[are] forgiven29 thee. And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This4man blasphemeth. And Jesus, knowing30 their thoughts, said, Wherefore think ye evil5in your hearts? For whether [which] is easier, to say, Thy sins be [are] forgiven thee;or to say, Arise, and walk? 6But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thybed, and go31 unto thine [to thy] house. 7And he arose, and departed to his house. 8But when the multitudes saw it, they marvelled [feared]32, and glorified God, which [who] had given such power unto men.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

Matthew 8:28. On the discussion about the readings, Γεργεσηνῶν, Γαδαοηνῶν, Γερασηνῶν, comp. the Commentaries.—Bleek (Beiträge zur Evangelienkritik, 1:26): “From Orig. (in Joh. Tom. 6:24), we may infer with tolerable certainty, that, at the time of that Father, Γεργεσηνῶν was not found in any of the MSS. of the Gospels then current. He only mentions it as a conjecture, that this may have been an older reading. From that time it seems to have been introduced into manuscripts. Origen found that the common reading was Γερασηνῶν, that of Γαδαρηνῶν also occurring. The change of the former into the latter word is easily accounted for, but not the reverse. Hence the writer has always been of opinion, that Γερασηνῶν, which Lachmann also has adopted, is the correct reading in all the three Gospels. But as the town of Gerasa, in Arabia, could not possibly be meant, we suppose that the name was incorrectly written by the Evangelists, and that they probably meant the town of Gergesa, as Origen suggests.” Accordingly, we drop the reading Γεργεσηνῶν, and only retain thus much, that Origen was exegetically right in maintaining that Jesus landed in the district of the Gergesenes, whose name at least (Γεργεσαῖοι, Genesis 15:21; Deuteronomy 7:1; Joshua 24:11) is mentioned by Josephus (Ant. i. 6, 2). But the MSS. are divided between the readings Gadara and Gerasa. Hence, judging from the circumstances of this narrative, we are warranted in fixing upon the adjoining Gadara, which was the capital of Peræa, rather than on the distant Gerasa, which lay on the eastern boundary of Peræa, and indeed was considered by some geographers to have been situate in Arabia. So also Winer and Meyer. Besides, the expulsion of the Lord is represented as an event of considerable importance, which would not have been the case had He been banished from Gerasa, and not from the capital of Peræa. Expulsion from a village by the sea-shore would only have induced Him to go farther inland; but banishment from the capital of the district rendered at least a temporary removal absolutely necessary. The pagan character of the district (swine, raging demons) may have led to the evangelical tradition, by which the scene of this narrative was transferred from Gadara to Gerasa. Gadara, the capital of Peræa (Joseph. Bell. Jud. iv. 8, 3), situated to the southeast of the southern end of the Lake of Gennesareth, south of the river Hieromax, sixty stadia from Tiberias, upon a mountain, inhabited chiefly by Gentiles (according to Seetzen and Burckhardt). It is supposed to have been the modern Omkeis (but comp. Ebrard, who places Gadara only one hour from the lake). See Winer and the Encyclops. and von Raumer’s Palestine. On the eastern shore of the lake, comp. Ritter’s Palestine. Ebrard suggests, that there had been a village called Gerasa in the neighborhood of Gadara. Euseb. Onomasticon refers to such a village under the article Gergesa, without, however, pronouncing decidedly on the point.

Two possessed with devils.—Mark and Luke speak only of one. Strauss and de Wette hold, that the account of Matthew is the authentic narrative; Weisse and others prefer that of Mark and Luke. Ebrard suggests, that Matthew joined the account of the possessed at Gadara with that in Mark 1:23; others fancy, that our Evangelist is in the habit of speaking of two individuals when there was only one. Meyer leaves the difficulty unsolved; while Augustine, Calvin, and Chrysostom suppose that one of the demoniacs is specially mentioned, as the principal personage and the greater sufferer. This idea is confirmed by the consideration, that two demoniacs would not have associated, unless the one had been dependent upon the other. For the details of the narrative, the parallel passages in the other Gospels must be consulted.

Coming out of the tombs.—This was their abode, the only one left them, after they had withdrawn from human supervision and society. We conjecture that they chose this haunt not merely from melancholy, but rather from a morbid craving for the terrible. These tombs were either natural or artificial caves in the rocks, or built in the ground. The calcareous mountain on which Gadara was situated, was specially suited for such sepulchres. Even Epiphanius (adv. Hœres. i. 131) mentions these rocky caves near Gadara, which were called πολυάνδρια and τύμβοι.

Matthew 8:29. What have we to do with Thee? מָה לָנוּ וָלָךְ, 2 Samuel 16:10, etc. Grotius remarks ad loc.: “Hoc si ex usu Latini sermonis interpreteris, contemtum videtur inducere. Ita enim Latini aiunt: Quid tibi mecum est? At Hebrœis aliud significat, nimirum cur mihi molestiam exhibes?”33 The ordinary consciousness of the demoniacs was always affected by, and mixed up with, their morbid consciousness. Hence their power of anticipation was morbidly developed. By virtue of this faculty they now recognized the Divine power and majesty of the Lord (comp. Luke 4:34). Hence the question, whether πρὸκαι ρο ῦ means: before the judgment of the Messiah, as de Wette and Meyer suppose. Perhaps they also anticipated that the work of Jesus in the district would be interrupted by them, and that it was not ready for the reception of the Messiah.

To torment us.—The apparent contradiction in the conduct of the demoniacs affords a striking confirmation of the truthfulness of this narrative. On the one hand, they seem to have felt the power of the Lord; they hastened to meet Him; their fierceness was kept in check, and they humbly entreated. But on the other hand, they identified themselves with the demons under whose power they were; they, so to speak, appeared as their representatives, and in that capacity complained that Jesus was about to torment them by healing the demoniacs,—i. e., that He was about to send the demons to the place of torment. De Wette: “Torment us,” by disturbing our stay and rule in man.

Matthew 8:30. A herd of many swine.—The Jews were prohibited from keeping swine, which were unclean animals (Lightfoot, 315; Eisenmenger, Entdektes Judenthum, i. 704). The herd must therefore have belonged to pagans, or else have been kept for purposes of traffic. In any case, it might serve as evidence of the legal uncleanness of the people, and of their essentially Gentile disposition.

Matthew 8:31. Probably the request was expressed in such terms as “Send us, ἀπόστειλον ἡμᾶς,” but the assent of the Lord was couched in the form of a permission, or even of a sentence of banishment. Hence the other reading of the Received Text. The request shows that these demons were antinomian, not Pharisaical; hence their choice of the swine. Possibly, there was also the malicious design latent, in this manner to put an end to the work of the Lord in the district. But in that case, the compliance of the Lord must be regarded as an evidence that at that time the awakening of terror was a sufficient effect. Lastly, the request of the demons implies that they were many (Meyer), which indeed is expressly mentioned in Mark and Luke.

Matthew 8:32. Go, ὑπάγετε.—The emphasis rests on the command to go. Strauss and others have raised an objection, on the ground that Jesus here interfered with the property of others. In reply, Ebrard appeals to the divinity and the absolute power of Christ. He also reminds us of the casting out of those who bought and sold in the temple; which, however, is scarcely a case in point, as every Jew might claim the right of reproving and opposing open and daring iniquity. Probably the conduct of Christ, in the case of so manifest a contravention of Mosaic ordinances, might be vindicated on the same ground, as simply the privilege of every zealous Israelite.34 But the text does not oblige us to suppose that Jesus interfered at all with the here of swine. He neither administered justice, nor enforced police regulations, nor took oversight of the herds of swine of Gadara. His only object was to cure the demoniacs, which He did by commanding the demons simply to go. Other objections—such as, that the demons would have acted foolishly by driving the swine into the sea—are scarcely worth repeating. Any such difficulty would arise from the false assumption that demons can never be stupid. It must be admitted that certain morbid states, such as derangement of the nervous system, madness, idiocy, raving, etc., formed the natural substratum of demoniac possessions. Hence there is a marked difference between the possessed, and those who, like Judas and the Pharisees, voluntarily surrendered themselves to the power of evil, as there is also between the demons themselves, and Satan, or between the renunciation of Satan in Christian baptism, and exorcism,—a rite which originally was only applied in the case of the possessed, and only introduced into the ordinary ritual of baptism and confirmation of catechumens generally when spiritual knowledge was obscured in the Church. The demoniacs were destitute of freedom, not merely on account of the psychical ailment under which they labored, but because, while thus suffering, they were possessed by unclean spirits (πνεύματα ). The idea of bodily possession, or the indwelling of the evil spirit in the physical frame of the diseased, was merely the popular notion. The main point was, that they were under the power of some special demoniac influence, or of a number of such influences, which proceeded from real demons, and were so strong, that the persons possessed identified themselves in their own minds with the demons. But it is quite possible that such influences may have proceeded not merely from the kingdom of Satan, in the narrowest sense, but also from the spirits of the departed. Hence Josephus (De Bello Jud. vii. 6, 3) held, that the demons were the spirits of wicked men; an opinion which was shared by some of the oldest of the Fathers, such as Justin Martyr and Athenagoras. Tertullian was the first to turn the current of opinion on the subject, and ultimately, on the authority of Chrysostom, the old idea of the spirits of departed and lost men was discarded, and that of devils adopted. But a closer inquiry into the character of sympathetic influences will show, that while the question, whence these demoniac influences proceeded, is of secondary importance, such influences—even to literal bodily possession—are quite possible, whether the party affected was conscious of them or not. From this it follows, that a demoniac might feel himself under the influence of a whole legion of unclean spirits, as, from the account in the other Gospels, appears to have been the case in the present instance. Hence we must beware of the common mistake, of putting the guilt of the demoniacs on the same level with that of wilful slaves of Satan. In our view, the blame attachable to such persons varied from the minimum, in the case of idiots, to a maximum. The common characteristic of all was cowardice,—a cowardly surrender of a weakened and lowered consciousness to wicked influences. The same remarks apply to the moral aspect of madness generally; and we would adopt the idea, that all madness was connected with a kind of demoniac influence, rather than the view, that the demoniacs of Scripture were merely lunatics, or even that of older orthodox interpreters, who regarded them as a class of persons possessed by the devil,—God allowing it at the time of Christ, and then only, for the purpose of glorifying His name. We do not, however, deny, that at that period, when all human corruption had reached its climax, these demoniac possessions also appeared in a more full and patent manner. But if we consider that the evil primarily depended upon moral cowardice and non-resistance to evil, we shall understand all the better the method of cure adopted by the Lord. The thunderbolt of His power and divine rebuke would once more kindle the ray of life and strength in the soul, fill the spirits who possessed the demoniac with fear, and thus break the fetters by which they held their victims. It snapped, so to speak, the connection between the diseased mind, deprived of its freedom, and the demon; while at the same time the soul was brought under the influence of the Divine Being. Such was the deliverance from the δαίμων, who, although a personal being, is designated as δαιμόνιον, in allusion to the impersonality of the relationship.

They went into the herd of swine.—Of course the demons, not the demoniacs. The commotion in the herd, by which they rushed down a steep place into the sea, is readily accounted for from the well-known sympathy existing among gregarious animals. If one of the herd was seized with terror, all the others would be affected. Probably the horse is, of all animals, most liable to sudden fright, especially from spectral apparitions; but swine are also subject to such wild frights (comp. Scheitlin’s Thierseelenkunde, vol. ii. 486). Perhaps the reason why swine were Levitically unclean, may have been not merely their outward conformation, but their susceptibility for impure psychical impressions. The circumstance, that the demons went into the swine, seems indeed mysterious; but the fright of these animals arose probably from the last terrible paroxysm, which ordinarily accompanied the healing of the possessed (Mark 1:26; Luke 4:35; Mark 9:26, etc.).

Όρμᾷν, cum impetu ferri, irruere, Acts 19:29.—Olshausen suggests, that the demons drove down the herd; Henneberg, Neander, and others, that they were impelled by an unknown, but accidental cause; while Meyer regards this as a mythical addition. We prefer leaving it unexplained, as belonging to the mysterious connection between the world of spirit and nature.

Matthew 8:34. The whole city.—For the moment, the terror produced by this miracle proved even stronger than the indignation excited by the loss sustained. Accordingly, as the heathen were wont to go in solemn procession to the altars of the gods in order to avert calamities, so the people of Gadara went out to meet Christ, humbly beseeching Him to depart from their coasts. They evidently feared, lest, if He remained, they should sustain yet greater damage. The cure of two furious demoniacs, involving the loss of a herd of swine, appears a calamity in a district where swine have their keepers, but men are left uncared for. Jesus departs; but those who have been restored are left behind—more especially he who would fain have followed Him—to bear witness it Decapolis of the power and grace of Christ.

Footnotes:

[25] Matthew 8:28.—Γαδαρηνῶν according to B., C., M., al. Griesbach, Scholz, Tischendorf [Tregelles, Alford, Conant].—Γεργεσηνῶν C. codd. minusc., versions, Origen.—Γερασηνῶν, the ruling lectio at the time of Origen; several ancient versions, Lachmann. [Dr. Lange reads Gadarenes. Cod. Sinait.: γαζορηνων. See Com.—]

[26] Matthew 8:29.—Ἰησοῦ is omitted in B., C., L. [Cod. Sinait.], etc. Borrowed from Mark 5:7; Luke 8:28.

[27] Matthew 8:31.—Ἀπόστειλον ἠμᾶς, in Cod. B., [Cod. Sinait.], most of the versions, Griesbach, Lachmann, Tischendorf Tregelles, Alford, Conant]. The lectio recepta, ἐπίτρεψον ἡμῖν , is probably taken from Luke 8:32, and explanatory.

[28] Matthew 8:32.—Εἰς τοὺς χοίρους, B., C., [Cod. Sinait.], Lachmann [for εἰς τὴν ]. Probably taken from the parallel passages.

[29]Ch. 9, Matthew 8:2.—[Ἀφέωνται is the indicative, either the present tense and equivalent to ἀφῶνται (as Homer uses ἀφέῃ for ἀφῇ), or more probably the perf. pass. (Doric form) for ἀφεῖνται, remissa sunt. Comp. Winer, Grammat., etc., 6th Germ. ed., 1855, p. 74. Lachmann and Tregelles read ἀφίενται, remittuntur, with Cod. B., Cod. Sinait., and the Latin Vulgate.—P. S.]

[30] Matthew 8:4.—Lachmann, following B., M., reads εἰδώς instead of ἰσών of the Received Text.

[31] Matthew 8:6.—[Cod. Sinait. reads πορεύου, for ὕπαγε.—P. S.]

[32] Matthew 8:8.—Ἐφοβήθησαν, they feared, is much better supported than ἐθαύμασον, they marvelled. [It is sustained by the newly discovered Cod. Sinaitces and adopted in all the modern critical editions, except the Gr. Test. of Stier, and Wordsworth who adhere to the Received Text.—P. S.]

[33][Comp. Comment. on John 2:4. where Christ uses this phrase in speaking to His mother.—P. S.]

[34][Dr. Alford thus disposes of this difficulty: “The destruction of the swine is not for a moment to be thought of in the matter, as if that were an act repugnant to the merciful character of our Lord’s miracles. It finds its parallel in the cursing of the fig-tree ( Matthew 21:17-22); and we may well think that, if God has appointed so many animals daily to be slaughtered for the sustenance of men’s bodies, He may also be pleased to destroy animal life when He sees fit for the liberation or instruction of their souls. Besides, if the confessedly far greater evil of the possession of men by evil spirits, and all the misery thereupon attendant, was permitted in God’s Inscrutable purposes, surely much more this lesser one. Whether there may have been special reasons in this case, such as the contempt of the Mosaic law by the keepers of the swine, we have no means of judging; but it is at least possible.”—P. S.]

Verses 9-17

V
The miracle of the call of Matthew to the Apostolate; the feast of the Lord with the publicans; twofold stumblingblock of the Pharisees and disciples of John: or, Christ’s gracious working despite the contradiction of legal piety.

Matthew 9:9-17 (Mark 2:13-22; Luke 5:27-39)

9And as Jesus passed forth [on] from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom [custom-house]: and he saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed him. 10And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat [reclined at table] in the house, behold, many publicans4 and sinners came and sat down [reclined] with him and his disciples. 11And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples,Why eateth your master with publicans and sinners? 12But when Jesus5 heard that, he said unto them, They that be [are] whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. 13But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice.: for I am not come to call the righteous6, but sinners to repentance.7

14Then came to him the disciples of John, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft [often], but thy disciples fast not? 15And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days8 will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast.16No man putteth a piece [patch] of new [unwrought] cloth unto [on] an old garment;9 for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is madeworse. 17Neither do men put new wine into old [skin.] bottles: else the bottles break [the skins burst], and the wine runneth out, and the [skin.] bottles perish:10 but the, put new wine into new [skin.] bottles, and both are preserved [together].11

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

Matthew 9:9. On the identity between Matthew and Levi, comp. the Introduction; Mark 2:14; Luke 5:27. Probably Matthew had already, at a former period, entered into closer relationship with the Lord.

Ἐπὶ τὸτε λώνιον.—The place where custom was levied, toll-house, custom-house, collector’s office. His way led Him past the receipt of custom (παράγων) .

Matthew 9:10. As Jesus sat, better: lay, or reclined, at table in the house—according to Eastern custom. It was the practice to recline on divans, resting upon the left arm. The house, which is here designated with the article, was, no doubt, that of the publican. Meyer maintains that it was the house of Jesus,12 since we read in the former verse that Matthew followed Him, as if to follow the Lord meant to accompany Him across the street! Luke relates that the feast took place in the house of Levi (Matthew). We cannot see any difficulty, unless, like Fritzsche and Meyer, we were to take in its gross literality an expression which evidently means, that from that moment Matthew followed Christ as His disciple in the narrowest sense. De Wette correctly remarks that it is not likely that Christ ever gave dinner-parties.13

And sinners.—Meyer: Worthless persons generally (!). We should rather say, in general, those whom the Pharisees had excommunicated from the synagogues.

Matthew 9:12. The whole—the sick,i. e., according to Matthew 9:13, the righteous and sinners. De Wette supposes that the former referred to persons who were really righteous in the Jewish and legal sense; while Meyer takes it ironically, as applying to their boasted righteousness. We would combine the two ideas. They imagined that they were righteous, regarding legal righteousness as sufficient before God. On the other hand, those who in the text are called sinners, were not merely such from the Jewish point of view, but felt themselves guilty when brought in contact with the righteousness of Christ. Most aptly, therefore, does Calvin designate this as an ironica concessio.

Matthew 9:13. I will have mercy.I take pleasure, I desire. Hosea 6:6, after the Septuagint. The opinion of de Wette, that the term חֶסֶד, in Hosea, means piety, is ungrounded.—And not sacrifice. The comparison may be relative; but when mercy and sacrifice are placed in opposition to each other, it becomes absolute, because the sacrifice then loses all its value, and becomes an act of hypocrisy. The expression, πορευθεντες μάθετε, go and learn, answers to the rabbinical formula, צא וּלְמֹד. Schöttgen.

Matthew 9:14. The disciples of John, etc.—St. Luke represents the Pharisees as in this case also urging the objection, and Schleiermacher considers this the authentic version of the event. De Wette regards the narrative of Luke as a correction upon Matthew, and deems it improbable that the disciples of John should have come forward as here related. Meyer decides simply in favor of the account of Matthew. Luke may have represented the Pharisees as putting the question proposed by the disciples of John, because the latter shared many of the views of the Pharisees, and were in danger of going further in that direction, from their attachment to John and to his asceticism. These were the disciples of John who would not be guided by their master’s direction to the Lamb of God.

Matthew 9:15. The children of the bride-chamber, οἱ υἱοὶ τοῦ νυμ φῶνος.—On the day of marriage, the bridegroom went, adorned and anointed, to the house of the bride, attended by his companions (מֵרֵעים, Judges 14:11), and led her, attended by her maidens, in festive procession, with music and dancing, at even, by torchlight, into the house of his father. The marriage feast, which was defrayed by the bridegroom, lasted seven days. (See the Bibl. Encyclops. sub Marriage.)

Mourn.—The Lord here indicates that fasting must be the result of πενθεῖν. The other Evangelists have νηστεύειν. “Fasting should be the expression of sorrow; not merely an outward exercise, but the expression of an inward state.” De Wette. The primary object of our Lord, therefore, was to show the impropriety of those fasts which had no proper motive, and hence were untrue. The present was the festive season for the disciples; and it was theirs to show this by their outward gladness. “The Roman Catholics infer from this verse, that, since the death of Christ, it is necessary to fast.” Heubner. If this were to be consistently carried out, we should have to fast the whole year round.

Matthew 9:16. No man putteth a patch of un-wrought [or unfulled] cloth.—Two similes taken from common life to illustrate the principles of the Divine economy. In both cases, it is not so much the unsuitableness of adding the new to the old which is brought out, as the folly of bringing together what is not only new, but fresh, with that which is not only old, but antiquated. Hence, in the first example, we have not only a piece of new cloth, but of raw and unwrought material, which will shrink. Accordingly, the piece inserted to fill it up (πλήρωηα) will make the rent worse by the strain upon the old cloth. Similarly, the new wine which is still fermenting, expands, and will thus burst the old skin bottles. The antagonism between the old and the new arises, therefore, not merely from the imperfectness of the old, but also from that of the new, which, however, from its inherent nature, must develop and expand. An arrangement of this kind were, therefore, not merely unsuitable, but even destructive,—making matters worse, instead of improving them. The result in both cases would be, that the old and the new would perish together. A careful examination shows that the two similes are intended to supplement each other. The first meets the case of the disciples of John, with whom the old was the principal consideration, and the new only secondary; i. e., they regarded Christianity merely as a reformation of the Old Covenant, as a piece of new cloth to fill up a rent in the old garment. The second simile applies more especially to the disciples of Jesus. Here, Christianity is the primary consideration (the new wine from the Vine of Israel), whilst the old forms of the theocracy were secondary. In both cases, the result is the same. But, besides its special lessons, the second simile is also intended to show how entirely false the view alluded to in the first simile was, that Christianity was only a piece of new cloth to mend the torn garment of the old theocracy.

Matthew 9:17. Bottles, or lit.: skins, ἀσκοί.—In the East, water, milk, wine, oil, and similar commodities, were, and are still, preserved and transported in leathern bottles, which were commonly made of the hides of goats, rarely of camels, and asses. The exterior of the skin, after having been suitably prepared, was generally used as the interior of the bottle. See the quotations of Heubner (p. 128) from Lucian and Aulus Gellius.14

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. It is important to study the external and internal connection between the call of the publican to the apostolate, and the commencement of open hostility to the gracious forgiveness of sins by Jesus on the part of the Pharisees. When they who had a historical claim upon the Gospel rejected its provisions, they were offered to those who had a spiritual claim upon the glad tidings, by being prepared and ready to receive them. Christ, the Saviour of sinners, reviled by the Pharisees, turns to the publicans, and calls one of their number to the apostolic office. Thus, at a later period, the hostility of the scribes and Pharisees of Jerusalem led to His entering a heathen country, when He passed into the territory of Tyre and Sidon, there to display His grace in the case of the Syrophenician woman, Matthew 15:0. In an analogous manner, also, the Lord interpreted the Old Testament narratives concerning Elijah and the heathen widow of Sarepta, and Elisha and Naaman the Syrian (Luke 4:25, etc.). The conduct of Paul was precisely similar. When the Jews in their unbelief rejected the Gospel, he turned to the Gentiles (Acts 13:46; Acts 18:6). Hence, while the conversion of the publican was a grand sign that the Lord now turned to the outcasts, the call of Matthew to the apostolate was a miracle of grace.

2. The quotation of Christ from the prophecies of Hosea, is generally adduced as expressing the contrast between the New Covenant and the degenerate form which the Old had assumed. Similarly, it may be applied to the contrast between Evangelical Protestant Christianity and the secularized mediæval Church. Nor are we, perhaps, mistaken in tracing a like difference between a devout and living piety and a fanatical orthodoxy, which too often contravenes the demands of the heart, and is radically opposed to Christian humanity.
3. Perhaps the circumstances in which John the Baptist was placed, may in part account for the gloomy disposition of his disciples. For some time past John had been in prison, and they looked to Jesus for help in this emergency; nor could they understand how, in the meantime, He could take part in festive entertainments.
4. It is significant, that even at that period the objections of the disciples of John were allied to those of the Pharisees. But there was this difference between them, that while the latter questioned the disciples, as if to turn them from their Master, the followers of John addressed themselves directly to the Master Himself. Even in their case, however, we miss that full παῤῥησία which should characterize the Christian. They do not venture to blame Christ openly. The Pharisees had questioned the disciples, “Why eateth your Master?” etc.; while the disciples of John ask the Master, “Why do Thy disciples fast not ?” Fanaticism assumes only the appearance of παῤῥησία, especially when, kindled by the sympathy of an excited majority, it is arrayed against a minority. Then those flaming declamations of self-satisfied eloquence burst forth, which the multitude regard as the voice of an archangel, while they are utterly opposed to that deep calm engendered by the Spirit of adoption, who inspires even a weak minority to speak with παῤῥησία. Finally, this occurrence seems to form the turning-point in history at which the later disciples of John separated from their teacher. The difference, which was afterward fully established, continues even to this day.

5. The reply of the Lord to the disciples of John contains a canon perpetually binding, in respect of the relation between form and substance. The principles itself has never been sufficiently appreciated. Even Master Philip [Melanchthon] seemed always prone to put the new wine of Gospel truth into the old bottles. The same attempt was made at a later period by the Jansenists, and gave rise to the tragic history of the Port Royal. In our own days, also, some seem still to be of opinion that the unwrought cloth may be put upon the old garment, and the new wine be preserved in decaying bottles. “The warning of Christ applies to all times, that the life of His Church is not to be surrendered by forcing it into antiquated forms. But it also implies that genuine Christian forms should be preserved, along with the truth which they convey.”

6. “The reply of Jesus to His disciples appears the more striking, when we remember the last testimony of the Baptist concerning Him.” He that has the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, who standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice (John 3:29). Jesus seems only to continue and to follow up the speech of their master when He replied to John’s disciples: “Can the friends of the bridegroom mourn and fast, so long as the bridegroom is with them?” Lastly, the Lord here points forward to His future sufferings and death as a period for inward fasting. This fasting, which is to succeed the sufferings and death of Christ, consists in a complete renunciation of the world.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

Jesus goes to all classes, into all streets, and to all men.—The greatness of Divine grace, which can make of a publican an Apostle. 1. According to Jewish traditionalism, the publican was an excommunicated person; but he is now called to assist in founding the communion of Christ. 2. He was an apostate from the people of God, but called to become one of the pillars of the Church of God. 3. An instrument of oppression, but becomes an instrument of glorious liberty. 4. A stumblingblock and a byeword, but becomes a burning and a shining light.—Grace is not stopped by any customhouse, and pays no toll.—High call of the Lord to the publican, and great faith of the publican in the Lord.—Matthew the Apostle relates, to the glory of God, that he had formerly been a publican.—The publican and the Apostle.—The Divine call must determine us to relinquish an ambiguous occupation.—Strange circumstance, that the Lord and His disciples should sit down at meat with publicans and sinners. 1. How can this be? Because the Lord does not conform to the publicans and sinners, but they to Him. He not only continues the Master, but becomes theirs. 2. What does it convey to our minds? Infinite compassion, manifesting itself in full self-surrender, despite difficulties and objections.—Christ and His disciples are still at meat with publicans and sinners.—When the Pharisees saw it, they said, Why? How this question has ever since been reiterated in the history of the Eucharist (Novatianism; refusal of the cup; Eucharistic Controversy).—The reply of Jesus, “They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick:” 1. A calm exposition: they that are whole are really whole, and they that are sick, really sick, in the legal sense. 2. A solemn warning: they that are whole are sick unto death, because they deem themselves whole; while a sense of their spiritual sickness renders the others capable of life. 3. A decisive judgment: salvation is for sinners who feet their need, not for the self-righteous.—Eternal import of the saying, “I will have mercy, and not sacrifice.” 1. Rather mercy than sacrifice, if the two be put in comparison; 2. only mercy and not sacrifice, if the two are put in antagonism; 3. mercy exclusively, to the rejection of sacrifice, if the one is set up in contradiction to the other.—Mercy the most acceptable and holy sacrifice.—Sacrifices, to the exclusion of mercy, not offerings, but robbery.—Sad conflict between mercy and sacrifice, throughout the course of history.—Lessons derived from the declaration of Jesus, “I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance:” 1. Character and prospects of the sinners who listen to the call of Jesus. 2. Character of the religion which ignores Christ and His pardon.—Inquiry of the disciples of John, or characteristics of the legalist: 1. He would give laws to others as well as to himself; 2. he would give laws without heeding the requirements of the case; 3. he is ready to take the part of the worst legalism (“we and the Pharisees”), and to assail with his puny objections the holiest liberty (“but Thy disciples fast not”).—Arrogance of legalism: 1. The disciples of the Baptist assume the place of being the masters of the Lord; 2. they venture to censure Him according to the traditions of their school; 3. they adduce the Pharisees as authorities against Christ Himself.—The bridal and the mourning season of the disciples: 1. Wherein each consists; 2. the appropriate manifestation of each.—It is one of the first principles of true Christianity, that every outward manifestation must proceed from an inward state.—The Christian life a continuous marriage feast, which may be interrupted, but is not broken up, by the sufferings of this present world.—Christ the Bridegroom of the Church: 1. As such He came at first; 2. as such He went away; 3. as such He will return.—Sad mistakes in the kingdom of God, which can only entail harm: 1. To mend that which is antiquated by putting on it a piece of new cloth; 2. by forcing the new life into antiquated forms. Or, 1. To garnish legalism with the gospel; 2. to force the gospel into the forms of legalism.—All attempts at patching unavailing.—The law and the gospel cannot be mixed up: 1. Because the gospel is infinitely more strict than the law (the unwrought piece shrinks); 2. because it is infinitely more free than the law (the new wine bursts the mouldering bottles).—Hierarchism might learn many a lesson from those who patch, and from those who cultivate the vine.—The sentence of Christ upon ecclesiastical questions: 1. New cloth, a new garment; 2. new wine, new bottles.—The true principles of genuine ecclesiastical conservatism.—Above all, we must aim to preserve, 1. the life along with the forms; and then, 2. the forms with the life.—Consequences of false conservatism in the Church: 1. These attempts at tailoring in spiritual matters are opposed even to common sense and everyday practice. 2. The old forms are destroyed by the new life, and the new life by the old forms. 3. The work of destruction is continued while they clamor against destruction, until the new and the old are finally separated.—How the Lord prepares the wed ding garment and the new wine for the kingdom of God.—The threefold mark of the new life: 1. It assumes a definite outward form; 2. it cannot continue in the false and antiquated forms; 3. it must create for itself corresponding forms.

Starke:—Christ is not ashamed of the greatest sinners.—Osiander:—It is easier to convert open sinners than hypocrites. This is more difficult than to break through a mountain of iron.—Christ the highest Physician.—Difference in ecclesiastical usages is not incompatible with unity in the faith.—Zeisius:—Constraint and Christian liberty cannot well be combined.

Gerlach:—Marginal note of Luther: There are two kinds of suffering,—the one of our own choosing, such as the rules of the monks, just as the priests of Baal cut themselves (1 Kings 18:28). The world, the Pharisees, and the followers of John regard such sufferings as a great matter, but God despises it. The other kind of suffering is sent us by the Lord; and willingly to bear this cross, is right and well-pleasing in the sight of God. Hence Christ says that His disciples fast not because the Bridegroom is with them: i. e., since God had not sent them sufferings, and Christ was still with them to protect them, they neither sought nor invented sorrow for themselves, for such were without value before God; but when He was taken from them, they both fasted and suffered.

Heubner:—Compassion and love toward sinners is the sacrifice most acceptable to God—of far greater value than the most pompous worship.—Christianity is opposed to all slavish discipline.—The doctrine of Jesus cannot be combined with the old traditions of Pharisaism. This were only miserable patch-work.

Footnotes:

[4] Matthew 9:10.—[Publicans for τελῶναι is better than taægatherers which has been suggested by some as more intelligible. For, as Dr. Conant correctly remarks, a taægatherer is not necessarily a publican, though a publican is a targatherer. The term publican is as much established in Scriptual usage, as the terms Pharise, Sadducee, scribe, Baptist, etc. It suggests the oppressive system of taxation in the old Roman empire and the arbitrary exaction and fraud connected with it. The taxes were sold by the Roman government to the highest bidders, who gave security for the sum to be paid to the state, and were allowed to collect from the provinces as much as they could beyond it, for their own benefit and that of their numerous agents and subagents.—P. S.]

[5] Matthew 9:12.—Ἰησοῦς is omitted in Cod. B. [also in Cod. Sinait] and in some translations. According to Meyer it was inserted from the parallel passages.

[6] Matthew 9:13.—[Dr. Lange omits the article before righteous, according to the Greek. The art would seem to imply that there are really righteous persons; while there are such only in their own conceit Dr. Conant omits the art., and translates: righteous men.—P. S.]

[7] Matthew 9:13.—Εἰς μετάνοιαν is wanting in Cod. B., D., L., [Cod. Sinait], in several translations and fathers. Comp. Luke 5:32.

[8] Matthew 9:15.—[Days, ἠμέραι, without the article. So also Lange: Es werden aber Tage Kommen. Cod. Sinait omits the words: ἑλεύσονται δὲ ἡμεπαι, ὁθαναὐτωννυμφίος.—P. S.]

[9] Matthew 9:16.—[Dr. Lange: Niemand flickt einen Lappen von ungewalktem Zeug auf ein altes Kleid, i.e., a patch of unfulled cloth on an old garment, which is more literal.]

[10] Matthew 9:17.—Lachmann, following B. and other Codd. [among which must be mentioned now the Cod. of Mt. Sinai] reads ἀπόλλυνται [instead of ἀπολοῦνται].

[11] Matthew 9:17.—[Preserved together, συν τηποῦνται; Lange: “miteinander erhalten.”—P. S.]

[12][Meyer means, of course, the house in which Jesus dwelt at the time. For from Matthew 8:20; Luke 9:58, it is evident that Christ had no house of his own.—P. S.]

[13][It is due to Meyer to remark that he treats this objection as gratuitous, since the Evangelist, he thinks, speaks only of an ordinary meal of Jesus with His disciples. But whence the “many publicans and sinners,” who took part in it?—P. S.]

[14][Comp. also Dr. Robinson, Bibl. Researches, ii., p. 440, and Dr. Hackett, Illustrations of Scripture from Eastern Travel. pp. 44–46. who tells us that he met these skin-bottles, or bags made of the skins of animals for holding water, wine, and other liqui is in the houses, and transporting them on journeys, at Cairo at almost every turn in the streets, and everywhere in Egypt and Syria. It was a ‘water-skin’ (according to the Hebrew) which Abraham placed on the shoulder of Hagar, when he sent her forth into the desert (Genesis 21:14).—P. S.]

Verses 18-26

VI
The woman with an issue of blood, and the dead maiden; or, the twofold miracle.—Miraculous working of the Lord in the face of despair and death

Matthew 9:18-26

(The Gospel for the 24th Sunday after Trinity.—Parallels: Mark 5:22-43; Luke 8:41-56.)

18While he spake these things unto them, behold, there came a certain [there came in a]15 ruler [of the synagogue], and worshipped him, saying,16 My daughter is even now dead [has just now died]: but come and lay thy hand upon her, and she shall live.

19, And Jesus arose, and followed him, and so did his disciples. 20And, behold, a woman, which [who] was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem17 of his garment: 21For she said within herself, If I may but touch hisgarment, I shall be whole. 22But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her,18 he said, Daughter, be of good comfort [cheer];19 thy faith hath made thee whole. Andthe woman was made whole from that hour. 23And when Jesus came into the ruler’s house, and saw the minstrels [pipers, flute-players, αὐλητάς] and the people [crowd]20 making a noise, 24He said unto them, Give place: for the maid is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn [laughed at him]. 25But when the people [crowd]6 were put forth, he went in, and took her by the hand, and the maid arose. 26And the fame hereof [this fame, ἡ φήμη αὕτη] went abroad into all that land.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

Matthew 9:18. Ruler, ἄρχων.—The president of a synagogue. His name was Jairus, see Mark 5:22; Luke 8:41; ἀρχισυναγωγός רֹאשׂ הַכְּנֶסֶת. Every synagogue had its president, who superintended and directed the services. The ruler of a synagogue was at the same time president of its college of elders. See Vitringa: Archisynagog., Franek., 1685.—Jairus was president of a synagogue at Capernaum.

The reading εἰσελθών, in Matthew 9:18, is not only best attested, but most suitable. The arrival of the ruler of the synagogue interrupted the conversation of the Lord with the Pharisees and the disciples of John, which took place during or after the meal in the house of the publican. It thus happened, that Jesus could prove to these objectors that He was able and willing to rise from the feast and to sympathize with the deepest suffering, nay, to enter the valley of death itself. This constituted both the fasting of Jesus and His mission to relieve the sick. The description of the conduct of Jairus is exceedingly vivid. His first appeal consists in falling down at the feet of Jesus, which he then explains by a few urgent words of entreaty, leading him at once into the midst of his domestic affliction. Accordingly, the Lord first calmed the excitement of the father by proceeding leisurely. In the circumstances, it was quite in accordance with His purpose that the woman afflicted with an issue of blood should have stopped Him by the way. This delay would serve both to try and to strengthen the faith of Jairus.

My daughter has just now died, ἄρτι [in this moment, opposed to πάλαι] ἐτελεύτησεν.—Meyer supposes that there is a difference between this account and those of Mark and Luke. But the latter has καὶ αὕτη , which agrees with Matthew. According to these two accounts, the ἐσχάτως ἔχει of Mark must be explained. Jairus left his daughter dying, and hence might express himself either in this way, She was (when I went away) at the point of death, or else, She hat just dicd. The circumstances of the case account sufficiently for the difference in the narrative. (So Chrysostom, Theophylact, Grotius, Wolf, etc.).

Matthew 9:20. An issue of blood.—It is not necessary to enter into details as to the peculiar malady with which the poor woman was afflicted. “The long continuance of this disease not only endangered her general health, but was a direct cause of divorce, and rendered it necessary for her to avoid every public assembly.” Von Ammon. According to the law, it rendered unclean, Leviticus 15:19 sqq.

Came behind Him.—A sign of hopelessness. The rapid movements of the Lord, and the peculiar character of her disease, would lead her to come in this way—ashamed, as it were, and timorous. All the greater appears the faith of this woman: she takes hold of the fringes upon the border of Christ’s garment, in the conviction that she would thereby be restored. The Hebrews wore four fringes (zizith) on the four borders of their garments, in accordance with the commandment in Numbers 15:38.

Matthew 9:22. Jesus turned Himself about.—The other Evangelists report the event more fully. The Lord asks who had touched Him. The woman then comes forward, makes confession, and is dismissed with a word of comfort. Matthew gives a more brief account, satisfied to state the great fact, that this poor hopeless woman by her faith obtained recovery from the Lord, while He was hastening to the bedside of the daughter of Jairus. In this instance, her faith is extolled as the medium of her recovery, though it almost seems to stand in direct contrast to that of the palsied man, whose earnestness and energy overcame every obstacle. We might compare the one to a robber, and the other to a thief; but the difference is only in form,—their faith was the same, both in its strength and decision. Although the woman had obtained recovery by her quiet and retiring faith, yet the Lord constrained her to make public confession, partly to seal her faith and to strengthen her recovery, and partly to present her to the world as healed and clean. In ecclesiastical legend she bears the name of St. Veronica, and is said (Euseb. Matthew 7:18, and the Gospel of Nicodemus, ed. Thilo, p. 561) to have erected to her Deliverer a brass monument in front of her home at Paneas, by the sources of Jordan. But Dr. Robinson (New Bibl. Researches in Palestine) thinks it probable that the statue was erected in honor of some Roman emperor.—Owing to this delay by the way, a message could reach Jairus, that his daughter was now dead.

Matthew 9:23. The minstrels.—The appearance of these minstrels indicated that the preparations for the funeral ceremonies had commenced. (Comp. the corresponding articles in the Encyclops., Winer sub v. Trauer, Lightfoot ad loc., etc.)

Matthew 9:24. The maid is not dead.—The idea of a trance (Paulus, Schleiermacher, Olshausen) is entirely opposed to the spirit of the text. The words of Jesus are evidently metaphorical, and intended, on the one hand, to present death under a higher than the common aspect (see also the history of Lazarus), and on the other, to prepare for the raising of the maiden. The Lord first requested the hired mourners to leave the room; and then, when they laughed Him to scorn, He expelled them. Evidently those around Jairus shared not his faith,—a circumstance which we infer even from the messages brought him by the way (as recorded in Mark and Luke). All the greater was the faith of Jairus, and especially the miracle of the Lord.

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. We notice a gradual progression even in the miracles of raising the dead. The maid upon her death-bed,—the youth on the bier,—the man (Lazarus) in the grave. The same progression may also be traced in the doctrine of the resurrection: First, the Lord; then the first resurrection of believers; and in the end the general resurrection, 1 Corinthians 15:0 Similarly, these instances of awakening from the dead may be regarded as an earnest of the coming resurrection. By His eternal power, Christ first recalled from death to this mortal life, and then to eternal life.

2. We behold the glory and majesty of the Lord, in that, on the way to the house of Jairus, He displayed no trace of excitement, but that in calm consciousness He is ready to receive any impression from without. Of this we have clear evidence, when, in the midst of the excited crowd, He perceives that one in the agony of faith has touched the fringe of His garment; and when He stops to comfort and confirm the trembling believer, whom His power and grace had restored.
3. The maid was not in a trance; she was dead. But she had died in the anticipation of help, and awaiting the return of her father. Such is the internal connection between the miraculous interposition of Christ, and her who was its subject. A similar connection appears in all the miracles of Christ, and especially in the raising of Lazarus.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

It is proof of a holy feast, and of holy joy, when we can immediately leave for the house of mourning.—We learn from Jairus, how parental affection may stimulate and strengthen faith and piety.—The disciples of the Pharisees and of John fast; they object and judge; but they cannot bring help to the weary, nor comfort to the afflicted.—The ruler of the synagogue must go to the house of the publican to find the Lord.—How felt need may drive many persons to the Lord, whom in ordinary circumstances obstacles around would have prevented from coming.—From an uncongenial controversy, the Lord forthwith proceeds to a conflict with death, the king of terrors.—To live in the Spirit, is to be always ready.—How the Lord can convert even interruptions into active duty, and an occasion for dispensing blessings.—Jesus, the Saviour of those also who are beyond human hope.—The Saviour of poor diseased woman.—These miracles prove that Christ was about to awaken the dead.—Jesus notices even that faith which is unperceived by men, and only finds utterance in sighs.—He blesses and strengthens retiring faith, so that it breaks forth into open profession.—“Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole.”—Why Christ ascribes to faith the deliverance which He alone works: 1. Because faith alone can receive the deliverance of Christ; 2. because Christ is present in our faith, and works it; 3. because He would convert the act of faith into a life of faith.—“The maid is not dead, but sleepeth:” 1. She sleepeth according to her disease in this life; 2. under the eye of her God and Saviour; 3. till the hour when she shall be raised.—Death and sleep: 1. Sleep is a kind of death; 2. death is also a kind of sleep.—Greatness of the moment when Jesus declared that death was but sleep.—Opposition between the old mourning for the dead and the new life of the Lord.—Comparison between Jewish and Christian mourning: 1. Wherein they agree; 2. wherein they differ.—What is implied in the mysterious silence which the Lord enjoins before the performance of the miracle?—Jesus delivering from the lowest depths,—1. All who believe on Him, or wait for Him; 2. from the depth of guilt, of misery, of death, and of judgment.—The fame of Christ, as awakening the dead, going forth into all the world: 1. The preparation for Easter; 2. Easter itself: 3. the echo of Easter throughout Christendom; 4. the harbinger of the day of judgment, which shall usher in the eternal Easter.

Starke:—Zeisius: Woman, who has brought sin and misery into our world, should be distinguished, both inwardly and outwardly, by great humility, 1Ti 2:14; 1 Peter 3:3.—The Lord oftentimes delays long, but He always comes at the right moment, Psalms 22:2; Habakkuk 2:3.—God sometimes deprives us of all outward means, or renders them insufficient, in order to bring us to Himself.—When our faith has saved us, joy and peace in the Holy Ghost succeed.—2 Corinthians 5:4; 1 Timothy 6:7; 2 Peter 1:14.—Zeisius: Leave the pomp and vanity of the world, if you would see the miracles and the glory of God and of Christ; for, in order to perceive them, you require quietness of soul, Psalms 62:2; Isaiah 30:15.—Cramer: Those who scorn the Lord and His benefits, are not deemed worthy to witness His miracles, Isaiah 33:1.—The fame of Christ spreads through the whole land, and it is vain to attempt suppressing the Gospel.

Gossner:—For Christ death is not death, but only a peaceful slumber.

Lisco:—Full of reverence for Jesus and of womanly modesty, and feeling herself unclean in the eye of the law, she seeks, in the fulness of her faith, help in secret.—In prayer we also touch the Lord, who, though invisible, is near to us.—Jesus, our Deliverer from sorrow and death.

Heubner:—Those who are in the higher ranks of life (the ruler of the synagogue) should not be ashamed to seek the help of Christianity.—He worshipped Him. The deeper our humiliation, the higher the aspirations of the soul.—What consolation does Christianity offer to parents on the loss of beloved children?—Christ still takes us by the hand.—And Jesus arose. This teaches His disciples that they should spare no trouble to help men and to save souls.—The woman a picture of modesty and humility.—Press through any obstacle that may intervene between Christ and thee.—Faith renders the weakest means effective.—Those who are most timid and shrinking, are oftentimes most gracious and near to Christ.—The scorn of worldly men need not disturb the faithful servant of God.—With His living hand did He take hold of the dead hand.—How we may rightly touch Jesus.—The certitude of Jesus, and of the believing soul.—Personal and domestic suffering leading us to Jesus.

Bretschneider:—The laughter of unbelief about the hope of immortality.—Theremin (in Zimmermann’s Collection, ii., 1827):—How sorrow and suffering abound on earth, but how the Lord is able to deliver from all suffering.—Rambach (Entwürfe, 1831):—Weep not for the dead.—Niemann (Sermons, p. 355):—Believing remembrance of those who have gone before, a rich blessing, as teaching us,—1. To love more purely; 2. to contend more faithfully; 3. to pray more penitently; 4. to die more joyfully.—Eylert:—Death under the picture of sleep.—Reinhard:—On the calmness with which Christians should act, even when surrounded by an excited multitude.—On the fact, that the conduct of true Christians frequently appears ridiculous to the men of the world.—Grüneisen:—The perfectness of the human life of the Redeemer.—Kraussold:—The dear cross: 1. It comes from the Lord; 2. it leads to the Lord; 3. it is blessed by the Lord.—C. Beck:—The power of faith: 1. Excited by affliction; 2. strong in confidence; 3. blessed in what it receives.—Bachmann:—Jesus Christ the true helper in every need.

Footnotes:

[15] Matthew 9:18.—Tischendorf: εἰπ ελθών, according to Codd. C., D., E., M., X., etc. [and Cod. Sinait. Lange, in his G. trsl., adopts this reading; so also Alford.]—Lachmann: εἷ ς, προσ ελθών, according to Cod. B.—Griesbach: εἷς ἐλθών. [Engl. V.: a certain ruler] .—Recepta: ἐλθών. [The original copy no doubt read in large letters: ΕΙΣΕΛΘΩΝ, which may mean εἰσελθών or εἷς ἐλθών, probably the former; for εἷς is superfluous here, although it occurs frequently in Matthew both after the noun, Matthew 5:41; Matthew 6:27; Matthew 12:11; Matthew 18:5; Matthew 21:24, and before it, Matthew 22:35; Matthew 23:15; Matthew 26:40; Matthew 26:69; Matthew 27:14. The εἰς refers to the house of Matthew where this scene, like the former, took place, comp. Matthew 9:10.—P. S.]

[16] Matthew 9:18.—Lachmann retains the recitative ὅτι after λέγων, which makes the speech more lively.

[17] Matthew 9:20.—[Dr. Lange inserts here in smaller type: die Quaste, i. e., the tassel, fringe, with reference to the fringes on the borders of the garments which the Jews were commanded to wear (Numbers 15:38). Dr. Conant also translates fringe.—P. S.]

[18] Matthew 9:22.—[Literally: And Jesus, turning (στραφείς, the oldest reading, sustained also by Cod. Sinait., for ἐπιστραφείς) and seeing her. said.—]

[19] Matthew 9:22.—[Be of good cheer. is the usual rendering of the Greek θάρσει in the E. V., comp. Matthew 9:2; Matthew 14:27 Mark 6:50; John 16:33; Acts 23:11.—P. S.]

[20] Matthew 9:23; Matthew 9:26.—[Lange translates ὄχλος in both cases Haufe, crowd, which is better than people.—P. S.]

Verses 27-34

VII
The cure of the blind men and of the dumb demoniac: or, the fame and the defamation of the defamation of the miracles of Jesus. The healing agency of the Lord, the earnest of coming salvation, in view of the hardening and the blasphemy of His enemies.

Matthew 9:27-34

27And when Jesus departed thence, two blind men followed him, crying, and saying, Thou Son of David, have mercy on us.21 28And when he was [had] come into the house, the blind men came to him: and Jesus saith unto them, Believe ye that I am able todo this? They said [say, λέγουσιν] unto him, Yea, Lord. 29Then touched he their eyes,saying, According to your faith be it unto you. 30And their eyes were opened; andJesus straitly charged [threatened]22 them, saying, See that no man know it23 31But they, when they were departed, spread abroad his fame in all that country.

32As they went out,24 behold, they brought to him a dumb man possessed with adevil.25 33And when the devil was cast out, the dumb spake: and the multitudes marvelled,saying, It [he] was never so seen in Israel. 34But the Pharisees said, He casteth out devils through the prince of the devils.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

General Remarks.—These two miracles are recorded by Matthew alone. They are here related, partly because they formed the close of a glorious day, and partly because in them the power of Christ appears in a new light. The distinguishing feature in the case of the two blind persons consisted in their invoking Jesus as the Son of David, or the Messiah; so that their supplication almost amounted to a distinct Christian profession. The opposite characteristic marked the case of the dumb demoniac, who was not dumb from any organic defect, but rendered such by the evil spirit of whom he was possessed. He was a demoniac without appearing to be such, since his condition remained concealed under a dumbness which originated either in unconquerable melancholy, or in malicious stubbornness. The dumb person was prevented by the demon from speaking, and the omniscience of the Saviour appeared in His immediately recognizing the source of the evil. The miracle was in so far extraordinary, as its only basis was the faith of those who brought the demoniac to the Lord; while, at the same time, the malice and blasphemy of the Pharisees served to confirm the power of the evil one over his victim. Thus the first of these miracles was, so to speak, enacted on the threshold of the kingdom of heaven; the second, at the gate of hell.

Matthew 9:27. Two blind men.—Blindness is a very common affliction in the East, especially in Egypt, Arabia, and Palestine. It was caused by the strong reflection of light, by lightning, dust, hot days, cold nights, frequent sleeping in the open air, etc. The persons here spoken of were not blind by nature, but by disease. In John 9:0 the contrary was the case, and is so expressly stated.

Son of David.—The designation of the Messiah. See Matthew 12:23; Matthew 15:22; Matthew 20:30-31; Matthew 21:9; Matthew 21:15; Matthew 22:41-45.

Matthew 9:28. Into the house;i.e., His dwelling at Capernaum. The circumstance, that the blind men followed Him thither, seems itself miraculous. They found their way in the train of Christ, as if some glimmer of light had already been granted. Similarly, the persistence with which they openly ascribed to the Lord a Messianic title which He had not yet publicly assumed, was a signal manifestation of their faith. They were not healed by the way, partly because Jesus would try their faith, and partly because as yet He would not in public reply to the address of Messiah.

Matthew 9:29. [According to your faith be it done to you.—An important word, which shows the relation of man’s faith to God’s grace. Faith is the hand which takes what God offers, the spiritual organ of appropriation, the ὄργανον ληπτικόν, the connecting link between emptiness and God’s fulness. “It is the bucket let down into the fountain of God’s grace, without which the man could not draw up out of that fountain; the purse, which does not itself make its owner rich, but which yet effectually enriches him by the treasure which it contains.”—P. S.]

Matthew 9:30. Their eyes were opened,i.e., they received their sight. A common Hebrew expression, as in 2 Kings 6:17; Isaiah 35:5, etc.

Straitly [sternly] charged [threatened] them.—Properly, He threatened them, full of indignation, ἐνεβριμήσατο. They had already publicly invoked Him as the Son of David, and He had holpen them. Accordingly, they would be still more prone to proclaim Him as Messiah, which might have led the people of Galilee into rebellion against their temporal rulers, and to a carnal movement, which was quite contrary to the purposes of Jesus. Hence the Lord now threatened them with all earnestness, although without succeeding in imposing silence upon hem. In all probability the fame of this miracle spread far beyond Capernaum. Hence the title, Son of David, became now generally known, and Jesus felt all the more inclined soon to leave the district.26

Matthew 9:33. It [He] was never so seen, οὐδέ ποτ εἐφάνηοὕ τως.—Meyer: It, i.e., the expulsion of demons. Rettig, Fritzsche: He has never so appeared or shown Himself. (The common explanation is, that οὕτως stands for τοῦτο or τοιοῦτό τι, against which, see Meyer.) If it were necessary to limit the word it to that one peculiar kind of expelling demons, we should feel constrained to adopt the explanation proposed by Rettig and Fritzsche. But this does not seem requisite in view of the emphatic meaning attaching to the word ἐφἀνη. The Jews would necessarily connect the idea of appearing with the appearance of the Messiah. Hence the expression would imply: never before has the appearance (of the promised deliverance) been so fully realized. This also throws light on the expression, in Israel, which evidently implies that this had been the brightest Messianic appearance as yet vouchsafed to the theocracy. Perhaps the statement was intentionally couched in indefinite language from fear of the powerful party of Christ’s enemies.

Matthew 9:34. Through the prince of the devils, ἐντῷ ἄρχοντ ι, κ.τ.λ.—Afterward he is designated more particularly in Matthew 12:24. The particle ἐν indicates intimate connection and fellowship. He is in league with Satan and his power, to which the lower demons are subject. As mention is not made of any reply by the Lord, we conclude that on this occasion the Pharisees had uttered the sentiment behind the Lord, but in the presence of those who acknowledged His power.

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. This is the first instance in which the Lord performed a miracle when invoked in His character as the Messiah. The expressions employed in the text are very remarkable. Jesus first asks, “Believe ye that I am able to do this?”—not, that I am the Messiah; and then adds, According to your faith be it unto you! But on this very account He insisted the more earnestly that the secret should be kept. He could not, indeed, prevent that the cure of the blind men should openly appear, nor that they should ascribe it to His power. But He sought to prevent their publishing in what name and character He had performed it. The patent secret of His dignity was now bursting forth with increasing clearness. Hence also the reviling and the blasphemy of His enemies.
2. The healing of the dumb demoniac affords a glimpse into a class of sufferings which are apparently physical and organic, but whose seat is really in the soul. The Spirit of Christ alone was able to light up this darkness, and thus to remove their affliction.
3. The blasphemy of the Pharisees gradually develops: 1. They blaspheme in their own minds; 2. then behind the Lord; 3. at last they venture openly to confront Him with their daring charge.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

How the two blind persons represent to us the work of evangelists. I. They resemble evangelists,—a. in that they openly invoke the Lord as Messiah; b. in that, in their blindness, they follow in His train to the house; c. in that they have faith and constancy, are tried and approved; d. in that they obtain help on making confession of faith. II. They differ from evangelists in wanting full obedience; and although their joy may plead their excuse, yet their spiritual sight was evidently still weak, though their bodily sight had been restored them.—Christ appearing as the Master in the carefulness of His dealings with sinners.—The light of the eye: I. a natural gift of God; II. a miraculous gift of the Lord; III. a symbol of the spiritual gift of God.—They brought to Him. Persons in such a state of depression must be brought to the Lord by their believing friends.—How the Master immediately descries the secret evil under which the demoniac labored.—If there be but a spark of faith, the Lord can remove the most desperate case of spiritual bondage.—Let us never lose sight even of those who suffer under melancholy and obstinate self-seclusion.—The highest achievements of faith always evoke the greatest revilings of unbelief.—It is a mark of the spirit of Satan to decry what the Lord achieves as the work of Satan.—There is always some patent self-contradiction about blasphemies.—The triumphs of the Lord in view of His enemies: the first manifestation of heaven and hell upon earth.—Christ lifting the veil of revelation in a twofold manner: by healing the blind in His character as Messiah; and the dumb, by unmasking and overcoming the demon who caused his disease.—At the threshold of Christ’s abode, precipitate evangelists and dumb demoniacs may meet.—Christ between precipitate professors and the obstinately dumb. 1. He bids the former be silent, and the latter speak; 2. He is obeyed by the latter, rather than by the former.—Christ healing us by removing our morbid sensations; more especially, a. excitement, in its imaginary heights; b. depression, in its dark depths.—The miracles of grace extend from the gates of heaven to those of hell.—Demoniac sins which we consciously commit, such as blasphemy, are infinitely more dangerous than demoniac sufferings, when we are deprived of liberty.—Christ first removes the storm at sea, and, last of all, the dark intricacies of settled melancholy.

Starke:—Faith of the heart and confession of the mouth always go hand in hand, Romans 10:9-10.—True faith is not deterred by delays.—According to thy faith shall it be unto thee.—Envy and reviling are not far removed from each other, 2 Corinthians 12:20.

Gerlach:—Christ Himself teaches us (John 9:39) to regard the healing of the blind as an emblem of inward illumination, or of the conversion of the heart.

Heubner:—One deliverance after another.—One work of love leads to another.—Believe ye?—a question always addressed by the Lord to us when we seek help.—The deaf and dumb, the picture of a sinner whom the evil spirit within suffers not to confess his misery, or to pray.—Should we be moved by the judgment of schools, or parties, in opposition to true religion, when Jesus Himself experienced such contradiction from the learned?

Footnotes:

[21] Matthew 9:17.—[The original reverses the order: Have mercy on us, Son of David.—]

[22] Matthew 9:30.—[Ἐνεβριμήσατο. Lachmann, Tischendorf, and Alford (in the 4th ed.) adopt the passive form ἐνεβριμήθη, which is quite unusual, but supported by Codd. א (Sinait.), B., C. Angelo Mai’s ed. of the Vatican Cod. (B) reads ἐνεβρ ε ιμήθη, but Buttmann’s ed.: ἐνεβρ ι μήθη. The verb ἐμβριμᾶσθαι (from the radix βρμ—comp. fremo and the German brummen—a heavy murmuring sound) signifies in general the utterance of vehement emotion either of wrath and indignation, or (as in John 11:33) of grief; then threatening admonition, as here. Chrysostom in loc.: οὐχ ἁπλῶς κελεύει, ἀλλὰ καὶ μετὰ πολλῆς τῆς σφοδρότητος. Meyer in loc. explains the indignant threat in this case from the fear of its uselessness, comp. Matthew 9:32. Lange renders the ἐνεβριμήσατο: bedrohte; the Vulg.: comminatus est; Luther and de Wette: bedräuete; van Ess: befahl ihnen ernstlich; Wiclif: thretened; Tyndale, Cranmer, Geneva: charged; Rheims: threatened; the C. V.: straitlyi.e., strictly, rigorously—charged; Conant: sternly charged. The authorized version renders the word ἐμβριμᾶσθα (which occurs five times in the N. T.), by three different verbs, viz.: straitly charged, Matthew 9:30; Mark 1:43; murmured, Mark 14:5; groaned, John 11:33; John 11:38.—P. S.]

[23] Matthew 9:30.—[Dr. Conant and the N. T. of the Am. Bible Union render ὁρᾶτε μηδεὶς γινωσκέτω: Take heed, let no one know it. So ὁρᾶτε should be translated before the imperative, as is done by the Author. E. V. in Matthew 16:6.—P. S.]

[24] Matthew 9:32.—[More correctly: And as they were going out, Αὐτῶν δὲ ἐξερχομένων.—P. S.]

[25] Matthew 9:32.—[Lange: einen dämonischen Stummen, or a dumb demoniac, i. e., a man who had become dumb in consequence of the possession. The Author. V. makes the false impression that he was dumb before.—P. S.]

[26] Matthew 9:30-31.—[Alford remarks on ἐνεβριμήσατο, or ἐνεβρινμήθη as he reads with Lachmann: “The purpose of our Lord’s earnestness appears to have been twofold: (1) that He might not be so occupied and overpressed with applications as to have neither time nor strength for the preaching of the Gospel; (2) to prevent the already excited people from taking some public measure of recognition, and arousing the malice of the Pharisees before His hour was come.—No doubt the two men were guilty of an act of disobedience in thus breaking the Lord’s solemn injunction: for obedience is better than sacrifice; the humble observance of the word of the Lord, than the most laborious and wide-spread will-worship after man’s own mind and invention.” Trench (Notes on Miracles of our Lord, Lond, 6th ed., p. 198) considers it characteristic that all the Romish interpreters excuse or rather applaud these men for not strictly adhering to Christ’s command; while the Reformed, whose first principle is to take God’s Word as absolute rule and law and to place obedience above sacrifice, consider this publishing of the miracle against the express admonition a blemish in the faith of these men. I add the brief but excellent note of Wordsworth on Matthew 9:31 : “Glory is not to be obtained by seeking for it, but by declining it.” Sequentem fugit, fugientem sequitur gloria.—P. S.]

Verses 35-38

VIII
Triumph of Christ over the reviling of the Pharisees. Royal preparation for the mission of the Apostles. The power of Christ unfolding in all its fulness, as also the misery of the people. The one Helper about to manifest Himself by many helpers.

Matthew 9:35-38

35And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel [good news] of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and everydisease [weakness, infirmity, μαλακίαν] among the people.27 36But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted [were harassed28],and were scattered abroad [abandoned], as sheep having no shepherd. 37Then saith he unto [to] his disciples, The harvest truly [indeed] is plenteous [great, πολύς],29 but the labourers are few; 38Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

The general narrative given in the text serves as introduction to the following section, which describes the mission of the Apostles. At the same time, it also forms the conclusion of the preceding narrative. As the Lord unfolds His power, the misery and need of the people increasingly appear; He stretches forth His arms and raises up the Twelve Apostles, to carry on the work, and to spread its blessings. Thus His prophetic merges in His royal work.

Matthew 9:35. And Jesus went about.—From the parallel passages we gather that Jesus now travelled along the lake, through the cities and villages of Galilee. It is but natural that the popular misery should then unfold to His view in all its fulness. Accordingly, we distinguish three missionary journeys of Jesus in Galilee. 1. To the Mount of Beatitudes; 2. across the sea; 3. through the valley, along the shore, in the direction of Jerusalem. It is to the latter that the text refers.

Matthew 9:36. They were ἐσκυλμὲνοι.—Explanations: 1. The common reading, ἐκλελυμένοι, faint, tired. So some. a. With reference to the people, who had travelled a considerable distance and were faint (Fritzsche). b. In a figurative sense, a flock without a shepherd, and hence tired by going astray (Kuinoel).—2. According to the meaning of σκύλλειν, to tear, to plague. a. Bretschneider: torn by wolves. b. De Wette: plagued by hunger, by cold, by ravening beasts, etc. c. Meyer and the Vulgate: vexati. But the first point to be ascertained is, whether the term refers to the difficulties of a flock without a shepherd, or to positive sufferings which it had to undergo. As the latter is evidently conveyed by the verb, we explain it as meaning afflicted, beaten down, and scattered by thorns, by anxiety, by ravenous beasts, and plagues of every sort.—Ἐῤῥιμμένοι (ῥίπτειν, to cast down, to stretch down), not scattered (Beza, Luther, Authorized Version), but cast down, beaten down by flight or by weariness (Kypke, de Wette); or stretched down as sheep that are worn out (Meyer).

Matthew 9:37. The harvest is great (occurs in Luke 10:2, at the sending forth of the seventy);—i.e., the number of people who are accessible to the Gospel, and ready to receive it, is great.—The laborers are few.—As yet, Jesus was the only laborer. Their prayers were intended to prepare them for their mission.

Matthew 9:38. The Lord of the harvest, that He will send forth laborers.—His work is the work of God: ἐκβάλῃ, the urgent necessity existing, should determine the Lord of the harvest to drive forth, or to thrust forth, laborers.30 De Wette calls attention to the circumstance, that it is God who is asked to send laborers. He is so far right, as the call of Christ ultimately proceeds from God, just as the kingdom of the Saviour is that of God.

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. The deep need of the world determined the Lord to manifest His royal dignity. Neither the priesthood nor the kingdoms of the ancient world were capable of bringing any real help to men. Even chosen Israel, with its high priests, sanhedrim, rulers, and rabbins, were but a scattered, broken-down, hopeless, and helpless flock. Under these circumstances it was that Christ manifested Himself as the Shepherd of His people, which implied that He was the Shepherd of all nations.31 The deep moral misery of the people appeared most clearly in the rich and fertile district of Galilee, with its numerous and prosperous cities.

2. In the same moment, when Christ was about to manifest Himself as King, and in His compassion to condescend to the boundless misery of His people, He prepared to found the apostolic office, which He graciously endowed with His gifts and His Spirit, for the salvation of the world.
3. In the life and actings of Jesus, we always find these two elements combined: provision for what is future and distant, with provision for what is present and immediate—a due regard for what was general, and care for that which was special and urgent.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

Jesus went about doing good to all (Acts 10:38): 1. The extent of His labors (about all the cities and villages); 2. the order of His labors (teaching in their synagogues); 3. the characteristic feature of His labors (preaching the gospel of the kingdom); 4. the seal of His labors (healing every sickness, etc.).—While the Lord passed through rich cities and villages, His attention was mainly directed to the need and the sufferings of the people.—How wants seem to grow in proportion as the Lord gives help: 1. This help brings them to light; 2. it inspires with courage to make them known.—But when He saw the multitudes He was moved with compassion on them.—Christ looking on the scattered flock of man: 1. A look of penetration; 2. a look of sorrow; 3. a look of saving mercy.—The impression which the people made on the Lord: 1. Not admiration, but pity; 2. not aversion, but pity; 3. not discouragement, but pity.—The Church under the hierarchical shepherds of older and more modern times: 1. Without a shepherd, and therefore without protection, and broken down; 2. without a shepherd, and therefore not led to the green pastures, and cast down.—Christ born to be the Shepherd of men, and in His compassion the Shepherd of His people.—Christ born to be the King of men, by His compassion the King of His people.—What induced Christ to manifest Himself as King instead of Prophet.—The compassion of Christ enlisting heaven and earth for our succor: 1. The grace of the Father; 2. the prayer of His people; 3. the service of His messengers.—The harvest is great, but the laborers are few.—How those who judge according to the letter reverse this saying; but those who judge according to the spirit feel its deep import.—The great need of man, the great harvest of God.—The prayer to God for laborers forming the commencement of the kingdom of heaven: 1. The commencement of the apostolate; 2. the commencement of the Church; 3. the commencement of missionary labors; 4. the commencement of the final completion of the Church of God.—The right laborers; 1. They are sent by God; 2. in answer to the prayers of His people; 3. furnished by Christ for the work; 4. consecrated for the spiritual and temporal wants of the people; 5. instruments of mercy in the hands of Christ.—Our Father in heaven, the Lord of the harvest: 1. The seed is His; 2. the field is His; 3. the harvest is His.—How Christ is employed about the harvest of God. He takes charge, 1. of the seed, as being the Word from the beginning; 2. of the field, as being the great Laborer and Servant of the Lord; 3. of the harvest, as being the Son and the Judge of the world.—How Christ summons His own to coöperate with Him, in order to spread through them His blessings over the earth.32—The great King, in whom the grace of God itself has appeared to His people.

Rieger:—The Lord always looked upon the common people with pity, treated them with indulgence, and traced the cause of their misery to their leaders, who exclude others from the kingdom of heaven.

Starke:—Good shepherds are one of the most precious gifts of God, even as bad pastors are the greatest misfortune and plague of the world.—Quesnel:—The whole earth is the field where the harvest of the Lord is to be gathered.—Many labor in the name of the Lord; but few will He own as His servants.—Osiander:—Ministers are fellow-workers with God, 1 Corinthians 3:9; 2 Corinthians 6:1.—Successful laborers are obtained in answer to prayer.—Cramer:—This prayer enters into the three first petitions in the Lord’s Prayer.—The prayer of the pious members of the congregation is mightier than the protection of the state.

Heubner:—What an accusation against the scribes and priests!—Oh, if people would only pray as they ought for pastors!—That He send them (ἐκβάλῃ) by the mighty impulse of His Spirit.

Footnotes:

[27] Matthew 9:35.—[The words of the text. rec.: among the people, ἐν τῷ λαῷ, are retained by Lange, but omitted in all modern critical editions, German and English (including Wordsworth), and were probably inserted from Matthew 4:23.—P. S.]

[28] Matthew 9:36.—[Dr. Lange translates: zerschlagen, as he adopts the reading ἐσκυλμένοι, jaded, [illigible words] (from σκύλλω, to strip, to lacerate, then metaph. to trouble, to vex; hence the Vulgata: vexati), which is supported by the best MSS., א., B., C., D., etc., the ancient versions, and the critical editors, Griesb., Lachm., Tischend., Meyer, Alford, Wordsworth. The reading of the Received Text: ἐκλελυμένοι (from εκλύω, to loosen, debilitate, ἐκλύομαι, to faint, to be exhausted) has no weighty critical authority in its favor.—P. S.]

[29] Matthew 9:37.—[Lange after Luther: Die Ernte ist gross, i.e., great, which is more correct than plenteous, since πολύς refers to the extent of the harvest field and the labor to be performed which far exceeds the capacity of the small number of laborers. Comp. Conant ad loc.—P. S.]

[30][The verb ἐκβάλλειν, to expel, to cast out, like the Hebrew שָׁלַח and גָּרַשׁ, signifies sometimes to send forth; comp. Matthew 13:52 (E. V.: bringeth forth out of his treasure); Mark 1:12 (driveth him into the wilderness); Mark 9:43 (sent him away); Luke 10:2; Luke 10:35; John 10:4 (he putteth forth his own sheep), comp. Matthew 10:34, βαλεῖν εἰρήνην, ‘I am come to send peace on earth.’ But perhaps there is some reference here to the urgent necessity of laborers, as Dr. Lange explains above, or to the Divine impulse, as Dr. Wordsworth suggests, which constrains men unwilling and unable of themselves to labor in so great a work, and makes them feel and say: ‘Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel’ (1 Corinthians 9:16).—P. S.]

[31][Dr. Whedon on Matthew 9:33 : “No doubt our Lord primarily has in view the Jewish multitudes before Him. Yet in more distant prospect is to be included the wide field of the world and its vast harvest in the coming age.”—]

[32][Dr. Whedon: “Pray ye therefore.—Divine operation waits upon human coöperation. God will do, in answer to prayer, what will not be done without prayer. Low faith in the Church produces slow development of the work of salvation.”—P. S.]

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Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Matthew 9". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lcc/matthew-9.html. 1857-84.