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Bible Commentaries

Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament

Matthew 8

Verse 1

8:1 The multitudes evidently were the ones Jesus left behind in chapter 5:1 when he went up into the mount. Their interest did not seem to be strong enough to take them up the place where they would have to climb. Nov that he is again on the lower level they are ready to go along after him. Followed him refers to their bodily movement in walking with him and not to any particular attitude of mind toward his teaching.

Verse 2

8:2 The leper worshiped Jesus which would mean only that he assumed a position of respect. See the long definition of the word at chapter 2:2. The law of Moses required a leper to maintain a safe distance from others (Lev 13:45-46), hence the conduct of this man could be only one of courtesy. Leprosy was incurable except by miraculous power, and Jesus had previously proved his ability to cure bodily ailments by his miraculous power (Mat 4:23-24).

Verse 3

8:3 Jesus was willing to heal the leper and did so both by physical contact and word of mouth. The healing was immediate and not like the pretended working of miracles today where the patient is exhorted to "hold out with faith and finally be cured."

Verse 4

8:4 There was no medical cure for leprosy known to the ancients but sometimes a leper was cured miraculously. And after the physical cure had been accomplished, a ceremonial cleansing was required under the law .which included certain sacrifices. (See Leviticus 14) The Mosaic law was in force in the time of Christ, hence he commanded this man to comply with that ordinance pertaining to leprosy. For a testimony unto them. When the former leper presented himself before the priest to perform this service, it was proof that a miraculous cure had been done and hence another bit of evidence would be furnished of the power of Jesus.

Verse 5

8:5 The Funk and Wagnalls New Standard Bible Dictionary defines a centurion as follows: "The commander of a 'century,' i. e., a hundred men, the sixtieth part of a legion, in the Roman army." This man was a Gentile, being an official in the Roman military forces. But the fame of Jesus had reached the ears of all classes, and they believed that the benefit of his mercy was to be enjoyed by any who were afflicted.

Verse 6

8:6 The word Lord in the original has several shades of meaning, one of which is "sovereign, prince, chief." This centurion had not become a disciple of Jesus and hence he did not address him as Lord from that standpoint. But he had learned enough about his great work to believe him to be be a superior person in wisdom and power. He therefore appealed to him on behalf of his servant who was sick of the palsy which was a form of paralysis that retained a considerable amount of feeling in the parts.

Verse 7

8:7 Jesus was able to give "absent treatment" as effectively as otherwise. However, the proposal to come to the home of the centurion drew from him an expression of complete faith. He had not even requested that Jesus come, but only appealed to him in the attitude of a simple trust in his power and willingness to do something for him.

Verse 8

8:8 This verse gives us one reason why the centurion had not askel Jesus to come to his home; he did not feel worthy of such a guest. He therefore was to be satisfied with the favor to his servant though absent, and expressed his belief thus.

Verse 9

8:9 This verse indicates that the good things the centurion said in the preceding verse did not come out of a desire to use empty flattery, because he gave a logical reason for his statement. Under authority . . . under me is a very significant line of argument. The centurion had the power to give commands to servants who were under him, even though he was himself under another. Jesus, on the other hand, was under no one (as the centurion thought) and hence should be able to exercise unrestricted authority. This was in line with one definition for Lord which is: "One who has control of a person, the master."

Verse 10

8:10 A meaning of marvel Is "to admire." Jesus could not be surprised or impressed as if by some unexpected occurrence for his wisdom was divine. Therefore we are to understand this to mean he was filled with admiration for this unusual exhibition of faith. So great faith, no, not in Israel. The centurion was not a member of the nation of Israel but belonged to the idolatrous Gentiles. Yet he showed more faith than the people who were supposed to possess great confidence in the seed of Abraham.

Verse 11

8:11 East and west is used figuratively to mean the earth or world in general, not merely the land of the Jews that was virtually restricted to the land of Palestine. Kingdom of heaven means the "everlasting kingdom" that is promised in 2Pe 1:11 to the faithful. To sit down means to become a guest and admitted to the hospitality of a home. It is used in this place to refer to the favors that will be given to the faithful in the Eternal Home after this life on earth is over.

Verse 12

8:12 Children is from Hums and Thayer's definition at this place is, "those for whom a thing is destined." It does not necessarily mean those who had actually become members of the kingdom, but those who would logically have been expected to be foremost in entering it as were the Jews. The fathers of that nation, Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, had lived faithfully under the system that was in force over them (the Patriarchal Dispensation), but their descendants of the later centuries in the time of Christ rejected the teaching of their great seed and will be rejected in the day of judgment. Paul set forth this same thought in his speech at Antioch (Act 13:46).

Verse 13

8:13 Having concluded his speech to the hardened Jews, Jesus gave his final attention to the centurion by promising him the favor he requested. As thou host believed means that the centurion would receive the favor he believed he would, namely, the healing of his servant at once by the simple word of Christ. -Hence the statement that the servant was healed in the selfsame hour is given in direct connection.

Verse 14

8:14 One-observation we should make here is that Peter had a wife, contrary to the dogma of the church of Rome. Laid means she was prostrated with the fever as if thrown down by the force of the disease.

Verse 15

8:15 In this case Jesus saw fit to make bodily contact. We are not told here whether• he said anything, but in Luk 4:39 it says he "rebuked the fever." This healing also was immediate and complete for the woman was able to perform the work of administering to them.

Verse 16

8:16 Thayer defines even in this passage to mean, "from our three to six o'clock P. M." That accounts for the many things that seem to have been done yet on that same day. Possessed with devils will be explained at verse 28, but it should be noted here that healing the sick was distinguished from casting out devils. It is also stated that Jesus did both with his word.

Verse 17

8:17 That it might be fulfilled does not always mean that a certain thing was done just so a particular prophecy might be fulfilled, although it will sometimes mean that. Whichever the case may be, it will be well to consider it in the light of saying, "and in so doing the prophecy was fulfilled which," etc. The prophecy cited here is in Isa 53:4.

Verse 18

8:18 Sometimes the multitudes were so great that it interfered with the work of Jesus (Mar 2:4; Mar 3:9; Luk 8:19). That was the case here and hence Jesus gave orders for them to depart unto the other side (of the Sea of Galilee).

Verse 19

8:19 A full description of the work and character of the scribes will be given at chapter 13:52, but I will state now that they were a very important group of men among the Jews. They made great pretentions of learning and wished to be recognized as an indispensable class. This scribe came to Jesus with an air of one who was deeply concerned in the work of the new teacher who was gaining so much fame among the people. But Jesus knew his heart as he always did all other men, and knew that he had mixed motives in his apparent devotional attitude.

Verse 20

8:20 To follow Jesus at that time meant to go bodily over the country with him and with no certain arrangement for personal comfort. The foxes and birds had fixed places of abode and always knew where they would lodge. However, we should not take the saying of Jesus to mean that he would be like a friendless wayfarer with no chance of accommodations at night. We are sure that he had friends (such as the family of Lazarus) who gladly opened their homes for him. But he did not hold possession of any such a place so that he could provide the comforts of temporal life for his followers, hence there was no object in following him with such luxuries in view. There is no ground for saying this verse is a statement to show how "poor" Jesus became as a popular notion claims for it.

Verse 21

8:21 It is unreasonable to suppose that this man's father was actually dead at this time, for had that been the case he would not have been away from home. The necessary conclusion is, then, that the father was aged and likely to pass away almost any time, and the son presented this family duty as an excuse for not going abroad over the country with Jesus.

Verse 22

8:22 As the father was not yet dead, and this man professed to be a disciple of Jesus and hence alive spiritually, he should leave the temporal work of a burial to those who were dead spiritually. The general lesson in the case is that even as important a circumstance as a funeral should not be allowed to interfere with the spiritual services we owe to Christ.

Verse 23

8:23 The disciples were that part of the crowd that professed to be the followers of Jesus in belief as well as wanting to go along with him in the traveling. We would naturally conclude that the multitude could not enter the ship.

Verse 24

8:24 In the Scriptures as in any other literature, we should deal with figurative language according to reason. We know that had the ship been literally covered with the water•, the disciples would have already perished and would not have been able to speak. The meaning of the passage is, therefore, that the ship was filling and that unless it was stopped they would perish.

Verse 25

5-26 The disciples had been with Jesus and had seen his power over great obstacles. They should have had such confidence in him that as long as he was with them no harm could come. Their failure to take that view of it was the reason for charging them with "little faith." Jesus then did what they should have confidently expected him to do; he stilled the tempest.

Verse 27

8:27 Each new miracle seemed to fill the disciples with astonishment. The distinguishing feature of this event would lie in the fact that it was inanimate things that Jesus controlled. That is indicated by their word obey, which ordinarily would require intelligent response which the storm could not do.

Verse 28

8:28 Gergesenes (also called Gadarenes) was situated near the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee. The tombs were caves in the rocks that were used for the burial of the dead. They were generally open so that persons could enter and leave them as occasion suggested. It was in this kind of a place that the Lord met the two afflicted men. Possessed with devils all comes from the Greek word DAIMONIZOMAI. Another Greek word that is always (with one exception) rendered by "devil in the Authorized Version is DAIMONION. These two Greek words are so frequently related that I shall consider them both in the comments at this verse. I shall quote from both Thayer and Robinson as they discuss the words in their lexicons. Because of the important history that they give in connection with their specific definitions, I think it will be well to give the reader the benefit of this authentic information. It will be so necessary in various places in our study of the New Testament, that I urge the reader to make it convenient to consult it carefully any time it is referred to. First will be Thayer on DAIMONIZOMAI: "In the N. T. DAIMONIZOMENOI are persons afflicted with especially severe diseases, either bodily or mental (such as paralysis, blindness, deafness, loss of speech, epilepsy, melancholy, etc.), whose bodies in the opinion of the Jews (see DAIMONION) demons had entered, and so held possession of them as not only to afflict them with ills, but also to dethrone the reason and take its place themselves; accordingly the possessed were wont to express the mind and consciousness of the demons dwelling in them; and their cure was thought to require the expulsion of the demon." Next is Thayer on DAIMONION "1. the divine Power, deity, divinity . . . 2. a spirit, a being inferior to God, superior to men . . . evil spirits or the messengers and ministers of the devil . . . to have a demon, be possessed by a demon, is said of those who either suffer from some ex ceptionally severe disease, Luk 4:33; Luk 8:27; or act and speak as though they were mad, Mat 11:18; Luk 7:33; Joh 7:20; Joh 8:48. . . . According to a Jewish opinion which passed over to Christians, the demons are the gods of the Gentiles and the authors of idolatry. . . . The apostle Paul, though teaching that the gods of the Gentiles are a fiction (1Co 8:4; 1Co 10:19), thinks that the conception of them has been put into the minds of men by demons, who appropriate to their own use and honor the sacrifices offered to idols." Next will be Robinson on DAIMONIZOMAI: "In New Testament, to have a demon or devil, to be a demoniac, to be possessed, afflicted, with an evil spirit; found only in the Gospels." Next is Robinson on the Greek word dai-monion: "1. generally a deity, a god, spoken of heathen gods, Act 17:18. 2. specifically a demon. In the New Testament, a demon, devil, an evil spirit, an unclean spirit. These spirits are represented as fallen angels, 2Pe 2:4; Jud 1:6; and are now subject to Satan as their prince, Mat 9:34; Mat 25:41; 2Co 12:7; Rev 12:9. They were held to have the power of working miracles, but not for good, Rev 16:14; to be hostile to mankind, Joh 8:44; to utter the heathen responses and oracles, Act 16:17; and to lurk in the idols of the heathen, which are hence called daimonia, devils, 1Co 10:20. . . . They are likewise represented as the authors of evil to mankind, both moral and physical."

Verse 29

8:29 These devils were fallen angels (see note on preceding verse), and had been in the place of torment in Hades (2Pe 2:4; Jud 1:6) where they 'would have remained until the time of judgment for which they were being reserved. They had been enjoying a short relief from that torment by being in these human creatures. They knew they would be doomed eternally at the last judgment, but if they could remain on earth until that day they would escape that much torment. But now if Jesus sends them back to their place in Hades, they will again be tormented before the time of the great judgment day that is awaiting all intelligent beings.

Verse 30

0-31 Rather than go back to their previous place in Hades, these devils preferred to inhabit the swine because then (as they thought) they would get to remain on the earth until the judgment of the last day.

Verse 32

8:32 Their request was granted but it did not benefit them very long. The possession of devils sometimes caused great physical derangement in men, and here it produced a madness in the swine that caused them to plunge into the water and perish.

Verse 33

8:33 Such an event was so unusual that the keepers fled into the city and reported the whole thing to the people.

Verse 34

8:34 The people came out to where Jesus was and requested him to leave the community. That could not have been on account of the one afflicted with the devils for in Mark's account (Mar 5:19-20) he was benefited and became a preacher of Jesus. The only conclusion possible is they feared others might lose some of their stock.
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Bibliographical Information
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Matthew 8". Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/znt/matthew-8.html. 1952.