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Bible Commentaries

Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures
Matthew 14



Verses 1-12

The Death of John the Baptist ( Mark 6:14-29, Luke 9:7-9) - Matthew 14:1-12 records rejection of John the Baptist's doctrine by Herod and his death. When comparing this story in the Synoptic Gospels, we see that Mark 6:14-29 records the most lengthy account of the death of John the Baptist. Mark gives more detail of the reason for his death, which was because of his preaching a Gospel of repentance to King Herod, and it records Herod's perplexity of Jesus' miracles; thus making an emphasis upon preaching and miracles. Luke's Gospel gives the shortest account by simply noting Herod's testimony of perplexity as to who Jesus was, having heard so many things about Him. Matthew's record of this account is placed among a collection of accounts of how to handle those who are offended by the doctrine of the Kingdom of Heaven; for the death of John the Baptist was an opportunity to get offended.

The Spirit of Jezebel- We are told that the spirit of Elijah rested upon John the Baptist in the New Testament ( Luke 1:17). Note, however, how the same spirit that raised up Jezebel against Elijah also came against John the Baptist in the form of Herodias; for Herodias sought to kill John the Baptist as Jezebel sought the life of Elijah.

Luke 1:17, "And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."

The Response of Herodias- Naturally, the woman (Herodias) responded with more emotion to John's rebuke that did the man (Herod). Herodias eventually succeeded in having John killed, while the king was trying to appease both sides in this dispute.

Matthew 14:2 And said unto his servants, This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead; and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him.

Matthew 14:2Comments- Billy Graham says Herod made this statement because his conscience was bothering him about the execution of John the Baptist. 477]

477] Billy Graham, "Sermon," Billy Graham Classics: Billy Graham in Memphis, The Liberty Bowl, Memphis, Tennessee, 1978, (Charlotte, North Caroline: Billy Graham Evangelistic Association), on Trinity Broadcasting Network (Santa Ana, California), 20 March 2010.

Matthew 14:4 For John said unto him, It is not lawful for thee to have her.

Matthew 14:4Comments - The part of the Mosaic Law that John the Baptist used to condemn King Herod is found in Leviticus 18:16, "Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy brother"s wife: it is thy brother"s nakedness."

This type of incestuous sin may have been brought into the family of Herod Antipas (4 b.c.-a.d 39), as the king was unrepentant, and expressed itself with his grandson, Herod Agrippa II (a.d 50-100), who is believed to have had an incestuous relationship with his sister Bernice ( Acts 25:13) (see Josephus, Antiquities 2072-3). 478]

478] E. M. B. Green and C. H. Hemer, "Bernice," in New Bible Dictionary, second edition, ed. J. D. Douglas (Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishing, c 1962, 1982), 132.

Acts 25:13, "And after certain days king Agrippa and Bernice came unto Caesarea to salute Festus."

Verses 13-21

The Feeding of the Five Thousand ( Mark 6:30-44, Luke 9:10-17, John 6:1-15) - Matthew 14:13-36 offers three testimonies of the acceptance of the doctrine of Jesus Christ. The multitudes received Him ( Matthew 14:13-21); the disciples acknowledged Him as the Son of God ( Matthew 14:22-33), and the men of Gennesaret accepted Him as the Messiah ( Matthew 14:34-36).

Here is a proposed outline:

1. Feeding of Five Thousand — Matthew 14:13-21

2. Jesus Walks on the Water — Matthew 14:22-33

3. Jesus Heals the Multitudes in Gennesaret — Matthew 14:34-36

Matthew 14:13-21 — The Feeding of the Five Thousand - Matthew 14:13-21 records the account of the feeding of the five thousand. Parallel passages are found in this well-known story in Mark 6:30-44, Luke 9:10-17 and John 6:1-14. The bread that these people ate with Jesus represented man as having fellowship with God. The twelve baskets left over represent the service that man gives in His Name as an overflow of communion with Him. There were twelve baskets, one for each of the twelve disciples to bear witness to this miracle.

Symbolic Meaning of the Bread- Notes these insightful words of Frances J. Roberts regarding the symbolic meaning of the bread:

"It is a joy to My heart when My children rely upon Me. I delight in working things out for thee, but I delight even more in thee thyself than in anything I do to help thee. Even Song of Solomon , I want you to delight in Me just for Myself, rather than in anything ye do for Me. Service is the salvage of love. It is like the twelve baskets of bread that were left over. The bread partaken of was like fellowship mutually given; and the excess and overflow was a symbol of service. I do not expect thee to give to others until ye have first thyself been a partaker. I will provide you with plentiful supply to give if ye first come to receive for thine own needs. This is in no way selfishness. It is the Law of Life. Can the stalk of corn produce the ear unless first it receive its own life from the parent seed? No more can ye produce fruit in thy ministry except ye be impregnated with divine life from its source in God Himself. It was from the hands of the Christ that the multitudes received bread. From His hands ye also must receive thy nurture, the Bread of Life to sustain thy health and thy life.

"Let Him fully satisfy thy soul-hunger, and then thou shalt go forth with a full basket on thine arm. Twelve baskets there were ( Matthew 14:20). One for each disciple. There will always be the multitudes to be fed, but the few called to minister. This is by My own arrangement. As the Scripture says: Do not many desire to be teachers, for thereby is attached more heavy responsibility ( James 3:1)." 479]

479] Frances J. Roberts, Come Away My Beloved (Ojai, California: King's Farspan, Inc, 1973), 153-4.

Jesus' Touch- As Jesus touched the bread, it brought life to the loaves and they multiplied, much like the rod of Aaron's that budded when placed into the Ark of the Covenant.

The Ministry of Helps- The principle of the ministry of helps is seen in this story. The twelve disciples were helping Jesus to distribute the bread. As the blessing and anointing was flowing through Jesus Christ to break the bread, so was this anointing imparted unto the disciples as they took of this bread and broke it and saw it multiply by their hands also. Noting that this event took place late in the day, Jesus would not have had time to break enough bread himself to feed the five thousand. The disciples were clearly breaking the bread they had received from Jesus. This story teaches us that there is an anointing imparted as we serve in the ministry of helps.

The Divine Principle of Thankfulness- Today in Israel, tour guides will suggest that there were about 40 ,000 people present at this time that were feed miraculously. In this story, we see a divine principle that will work in our lives. Jesus took what small provision His Heavenly Father provided and gave God thanks for it. God was then able to bless what He had and cause it to multiply. Our Father will do the same for us. We are to be thankful for what we presently have and serve Him so that He can bless and multiply our provision.

Matthew 14:13 When Jesus heard of it, he departed thence by ship into a desert place apart: and when the people had heard thereof, they followed him on foot out of the cities.

Matthew 14:13Comments - Perhaps the disciples were anticipating that Jesus would react dramatically to the death of John. Yet, His reaction seemed to be one of withdrawal and solitude rather than confrontation and speaking out against evil. While John the Baptist confronted the king because of his behavior, Jesus withdraws Himself from confrontation in fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy that Matthew records in Matthew 12:17-21.

Jesus probably departed with some of His closest disciples into a desert place, for Matthew writes in Matthew 14:23 that He was alone after sending the disciples away.

Matthew 14:23, "And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone."

Matthew 14:14 And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick.

Matthew 14:14 — "And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them" - Comments- Note how Job was also moved with compassion for the poor.

Job 30:25, "Did not I weep for him that was in trouble? was not my soul grieved for the poor?"

Matthew 14:14 — "and he healed their sick" - Word Study on "healed" - BDAG says the Greek word ἄ ῤ ῥ ωστος literally means, "powerless," and carries the additional meaning, "sick, ill." Leon Morris says this word means, "feeble, sickly," being derived from the Greek prefix and the verb ῥ ώνυμμι, which means, "to strengthen." 480] This word used in Matthew 14:14 reflects the weariness of the people from their long journey into the wilderness to find Jesus. Such a journey wearies the physical body and exposes its weaknesses.

480] Leon Morris, The Gospel According to Matthew , in The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1992), 376.

Comments- Benny Hinn notes that before Jesus fed the multitudes He healed them. He notes in Matthew 15:29-30 how Jesus also healed the multitudes before feeding the four thousand. 481]

481] Benny Hinn, This is Your Day (Irving, Texas), on Trinity Broadcasting Network (Santa Ana, California), television program.

Matthew 15:29-30, "And Jesus departed from thence, and came nigh unto the sea of Galilee; and went up into a mountain, and sat down there. And great multitudes came unto him, having with them those that were lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and many others, and cast them down at Jesus" feet; and he healed them:"

Matthew 14:14Comments - The public ministry of Jesus Christ reached its peak of popularity during the miracle of Jesus feeding the five thousand, as the multitudes around Galilee followed Him. At the end of the narrative section in John 6:60-66 many disciples forsook Him. Jesus will be left standing in the synagogue of Capernaum asking His closest disciples if they will forsake Him also ( John 6:67-71). Jesus' miracles have brought attention to His message, but not commitment from His followers.

Matthew 14:15 And when it was evening, his disciples came to him, saying, This is a desert place, and the time is now past; send the multitude away, that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves victuals.

Matthew 14:16 But Jesus said unto them, They need not depart; give ye them to eat.

Matthew 14:16Comments- This test is like the test that God gave the children of Israel in the wilderness, proving the children of God to see if they would believe His Word. Note:

John 6:6, "And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do."

Matthew 14:17 And they say unto him, We have here but five loaves, and two fishes.

Matthew 14:17Word Study on "loaves" - The Greek word ἄ ρτος means "bread." Leon Morris describes this bread as the size of a "bun" so that several pieces could be eaten at a single meal. 482]

482] Leon Morris, The Gospel According to Matthew , in The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1992), 378.

Comments- The Gospel of John tells us that there was a small boy in the crowd who has some food. He was willing to offer it unto Jesus and His disciples. We know that there were others who had brought some small portions of food with them, but had not offered it, probably because they did not think that it was enough to help the situation. God can take our smallest gifts and work mighty miracles with it if we will only be willing to offer it unto Him.

Note these insightful words from Sadhu Sundar Singh regarding the lad with the loaves and fishes.

"Sometimes when there is some great act of service to be done, I choose for My purpose those who are little esteemed in the eyes of the world, for they make no boast of their own power or Wisdom of Solomon , but putting their entire trust in Me, and accounting what little ability they possess as of no great value, they devote all they have and are to My work for men (1Cor. i 26-30). For instance, when I fed in the wilderness five thousand men with five loaves and two fishes, you will remember that I did not perform this miracle by the agency of My disciples, for they were full of doubt and perplexity and wished to send the multitude away hungry (John vi 9). My servant on that occasion was a little lad whom I had cured of the palsy. Filled with a desire to hear My words he determined to follow Me. His poor mother wrapped up in his clothes some barley cakes and dried fish, enough for two or three days journey, so when inquiry was made for food for the multitude this faithful little lad at once brought all that he had and laid it at the disciples' feet. Though there were wealthy people there who had with them much better food, such as wheaten cakes, they were not prepared to give them up; so it was from the barley cakes of this boy, My namesake, that by My blessing the multitude was fed with the choicest food." 483]

483] Sadhu Sundar Singh, At the Master's Feet, translated by Arthur Parker (London: Fleming H. Revell Co, 1922) [on-line], accessed 26 October 2008, available from; Internet, "IV Service," section 2, part 6.

Matthew 14:18 He said, Bring them hither to me.

Matthew 14:19 And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.

Matthew 14:20 And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full.

Matthew 14:20Comments - The twelve baskets of fragments were probably the pieces left over in the hands of the disciples after distributing the bread, and not crumbs picked up from the ground. In the story of the feeding of the five thousand ( Matthew 14:20) and the four thousand ( Matthew 15:37), the author uses the word κλάσμα (G 2801), meaning "a fragment, piece, or crumb" (BDAG), while in the story of the Syro-Phenician woman ( Matthew 15:27), the author uses ψιχίον (G 5589), meaning "a very little bit, a crumb" (BDAG) to describe the crumbs which fell from the table. Thus, the author appears to make a distinction between the fragments of bread gathered ( Matthew 14:20), and crumbs that fell from the meal table ( Matthew 15:27). The disciples broke the bread into fragments until the people were full; then gathered what was left in their hands into baskets. When the disciples reassembled themselves with Jesus having what was left in their own hands, they collected it into twelve baskets. Thus, Matthew 14:20 means that during the breaking of the loaves and distributing them in baskets, there was more than enough left over after feeding everyone. The twelve baskets full of bread testified that the people were full.

Besides serving as a testimony of plenty, the fragments may have served an additional purpose. Perhaps Jesus returned to the lad more bread than he started with, just like Jesus did for Peter when he borrowed his boat. Jesus told Peter launch out into the deep, and catch a multitude of fish after Jesus was finished using Peter"s boat ( Luke 5:1-10).

Matthew 14:21 And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside women and children.

Matthew 14:21Comments- Men tend to eat more than women and children. Thus, the amount of food eaten by men is used as a measure of how much food was needed to satisfy the people.

Verses 22-33

Jesus Walks on the Water ( Mark 6:45-52, John 6:16-21) - Matthew 14:22-33 records the amazing story of Jesus walking on the water as He made His way to His disciples' ship in the midst of a storm.

Symbolic Meaning- In this story the troubled waters represent the sorrows of our lives. Jesus comes to us during these times walking above these cares of life. If we abide in Him, we can hear His voice above the cares and sorrows that try to overwhelm us. We are never alone, even during the worst storms of life. If we will learn to fix our eyes upon Jesus, we too can walk above the cares of this life. When we focus our attention upon the storm, the same fear will overcome us, and we too will sink into the despairs of life's troubled waters. Note these words from Frances J. Roberts:

"O My child, I am coming to thee walking upon the waters of the sorrows of thy life; yea, above the sounds of the storm ye shall hear My voice calling thy name." 484]

484] Frances J. Roberts, Come Away My Beloved (Ojai, California: King's Farspan, Inc, 1973), 16.

The waves of the sea also represent the tumult of the nations:

Psalm 65:7, "Which stilleth the noise of the seas, the noise of their waves, and the tumult of the people."

Matthew 14:22 And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away.

Matthew 14:22Comments - Jesus did not send His disciples into the storm; rather, He sent them off on a calm sea. However, the devil knows when a leader is separated from his flock and often takes advantage of those who are weak in faith. After Jesus' temptation, the Scriptures tell us that Satan departed from Jesus for a season ( Luke 4:13). Satan was looking for a new opportunity to tempt Jesus and now His devoted disciples, and he found it at this season of opportunity. When the storm arose, the disciples became afraid, something Jesus rebuked Peter for when He rescued him ( Matthew 14:31).

Luke 4:13, "And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season."

Matthew 14:31, "And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?"

Matthew 14:25 And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.

Matthew 14:25Comments - The disciples had been struggling against this storm so that a journey that should have taken only a few hours was now taking at least ten hours.

Matthew 14:27 But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I be not afraid.

Matthew 14:27Comments - Jesus could have commanded the storm to cease as He did on another occasion, which He did because the disciples had failed their test of faith in His Word. Jesus does not immediately calm the storm because He wanted them to have an opportunity to test their faith again. Therefore, He tells them to be of good cheer in the midst of the storm so that fear would depart from their hearts and faith would have an opportunity to rise up. This charge sank in the heart of Peter and he stepped out of the boat in the midst of the storm by putting his faith in the command of Jesus to come to him ( Matthew 14:28-29). Jesus wanted them to learn to trust His Word in the midst of the storm.

Matthew 14:28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.

Matthew 14:29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.

Matthew 14:29Comments - Fear had departed Peter's heart ( Matthew 14:26) when Jesus spoke words of cheer to them ( Matthew 14:27). He then acted in obedience upon God's Word and began to walk by faith in the midst of the storm around him.

Matthew 14:30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.

Matthew 14:30 — "he was afraid" - Comments- Note how fear and doubt are partners, working together against us; but cheerfulness and faith go hand in hand to overcome them both.

Mark 4:40, "And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?"

Luke 8:50, "But when Jesus heard it, he answered him, saying, Fear not: believe only, and she shall be made whole."

1 John 4:18, "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love."

Matthew 14:31Comments - As long as Peter kept his eyes of Jesus, faith dominated his heart, filling it; however, as soon as Peter took his eyes off of Jesus and on to the storm and circumstances around him, faith quickly departed and faith moved in to take its place. The wind and the waves could not stop Peter from walking on the water; however, they were able to take Jesus' attention away from the Word of God that Jesus gave Peter to walk on the water.

Matthew 14:31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?

Matthew 14:33 Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.

Matthew 14:33Comments - Until the disciples made the confession that Jesus was the Son of God in Matthew 14:33, the only previous confessions using this divine title in the Gospel of Matthew have been uttered by the devil in the wilderness temptation ( Matthew 4:3; Matthew 4:6) and by demons during an exorcism ( Matthew 8:29). Later, Peter will make his confession of faith in the deity of Jesus saying, "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God." ( Matthew 16:16) The only other uses of the phrase "Son of God" in Matthew's Gospel are at the trial of Jesus when the high priest tried to get Jesus to make this confession ( Matthew 26:63), when He was mocked on the Cross ( Matthew 27:40; Matthew 27:43), and by the centurion who became convinced of His deity at the Cross ( Matthew 27:54).

Verses 34-36

Jesus Heals the Multitudes in Gennesaret ( Mark 6:53-56) - Matthew 14:34-36 tells us of how Jesus healed many that were sick in the land of Gennesaret. The people of the region of Galilee received His ministry and were healed as a result.

Matthew 14:36 And besought him that they might only touch the hem of his garment: and as many as touched were made perfectly whole.

Matthew 14:36Comments- We can see that the people had faith in Jesus, so that He might heal them. Since we cannot believe beyond our knowledge of God's Word, we see that these people "had knowledge of Him." This means that when they heard about Him, they believed He had the power to heal them. Therefore, they sought to touch Him, just as the woman of issue of blood sought Him and touch He to receive her healing.

Why was the anointing released to only one woman when a crowd of people were pressing against Jesus in Mark 5:30-34? We see the answer in verse 33when Jesus said, "Thy faith hath made thee whole." It is our faith in God that releases the anointing.


Copyright Statement
These files are copyrighted by the author, Gary Everett. Used by Permission.
No distribution beyond personal use without permission.

Bibliography Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Matthew 14:4". Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. 2013.

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