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Bible Commentaries

Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures
Matthew 15

 

 

Verses 1-39

The Rejection of the Doctrine of Old Testament Scriptures - In Matthew 15:1-39 emphasis is placed upon the rejection by the Pharisees of the doctrine of the Old Testament Scriptures and the acceptance of Jesus' ministry by the Gentiles and Galileans.

Here is a proposed outline:

1. Jesus Challenges False Teachings of the Pharisees — Matthew 15:1-9

2. Jesus Teaches in Parables on Defilement of the Heart — Matthew 15:10-20

3. The Syro-Phoenician Woman's Great Faith in Jesus' Words — Matthew 15:21-28

4. Jesus Feeds the Four Thousand — Matthew 15:29-39

Matthew 15:1-9 — Jesus Challenges the False Teachings of the Pharisees ( Mark 7:1-23) - In Matthew 15:1-9 Jesus confronts the Pharisees who have rejected the testimony of the Old Testament Scriptures, challenging the false teachings of the Pharisees, who followed the traditions of the elders above the Mosaic Law. The context of this narrative material and fourth discourse will be offenses that come against God's people as a result of false doctrines.

Matthew 15:5-6Comments - The Hypocrisy of the Pharisees- The Pharisees gave money into the treasury, but they did not provide for their own family.

Matthew 15:7-9Old Testament Quotes in the New Testament - The quote recorded in Matthew 15:7-9 is taken from Isaiah 29:13, "Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:"

This Old Testament quote establishes the theme of the narrative material found in Matthew 13:53 to Matthew 17:27 which is the issue of handling offences and persecutions from those who have embraced false doctrines.

Matthew 15:8-9Comments - False Teachers- It is clear that someone who is teaching a false doctrine has a heart that is far removed from God. The mortification of the flesh is not dealt with in the Pharisee"s tradition of hand washing. Note:

Colossians 2:8, "Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ."

Colossians 2:23, "Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh."

Matthew 15:10-20 — Jesus Teaches in Parables on the Defilement of the Heart- In Matthew 15:10-20 Jesus teaches the multitudes using a parable and explains the parable to His disciples in order to help them understand the defilement of men's hearts.

Matthew 15:13 But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.

Matthew 15:13Comments - Note that Jesus has just finished telling the parable of the wheat and the tares as He makes this reference to uprooting plants (see Matthew 13:24-30; Matthew 13:36-43). This statement coincides with the parable of the wheat and the tares.

Matthew 15:14 Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.

Matthew 15:15 Then answered Peter and said unto him, Declare unto us this parable.

Matthew 15:15Comments - The parable is stated in Matthew 15:11, "Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man."

Matthew 15:20 These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.

Matthew 15:20 — "but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man" - Comments - This pericope opens with a claim from the Pharisees and Scribes that Jesus' disciples broke the tradition of the elders by not washing their hands before they ate.

Matthew 15:21-28 — The Great Faith of the Syro-Phoenician Woman ( Mark 7:24-30) - In the story of the Syro-Phoenician woman, Jesus notes that she had great faith because she believed His Words. She is only one of two people in the Gospels that Jesus commends for great faith. The other person is the centurion (see Matthew 8:5-13). Neither of these people were Israelites.

Grace Bestowed Upon the Gentiles- Joseph Prince tells the story of when the Lord spoke to him to study about the centurion and the Syro-Phoenician woman in regards to his teachings on grace. The Lord asked him to note the one thing that they both had in common. He looked at each character carefully, but only saw their differences. One was a woman, and the other a man. One was an illustrious Roman soldier, the other a poor woman. He finally asked the Lord for the answer, and He replied that they were both Gentiles. Therefore, they did not know the Law nor its condemnation. They were only conscience of Jesus Christ and the grace that He was liberally bestowing upon the people. In contrast, the Pharisees were fully conscience of the Law, and as a result of this mindset, they could not accept the grace of God being given to mankind through Jesus Christ. The Pharisees could only see men as condemned sinners unqualified for God's grace. 485]

485] Joseph Prince, Destined to Reign, on Lighthouse Television (Kampala, Uganda), television program, 8 December 2009.

Matthew 15:26 But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children"s bread, and to cast it to dogs.

Matthew 15:26 — "It is not meet to take the children"s bread" - Comments - The "children's bread" is a reference to the table of blessings that God provides His children through the words of His covenant. The table of blessings is found in the Scriptures. On this table, we can partake of healing, prosperity, peace, Wisdom of Solomon , and many other endless blessings in the presence of the Lord. Note:

Psalm 23:5, "Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over."

Psalm 78:19, "Yea, they spake against God; they said, Can God furnish a table in the wilderness?"

Proverbs 9:2, "She hath killed her beasts; she hath mingled her wine; she hath also furnished her table."

Matthew 15:26 — "and to cast it to dogs" - Comments - Joseph Church served as a missionary in East Africa for years and expresses the African view of calling someone a dog. He gives us a little insight into the meaning of the term "dog" in the New Testament, when used as an analogy for a sinner, saying "In African thinking all dogs are ‘shenzi, that is untouchable. You never pat your dog or let it lick you. If you want to curse a Prayer of Manasseh , you can call him a dog." 486] He

486] Joseph E. Church, Quest for the Highest (Exeter, UK: The Paternoster Press, 1981), 25.

This term is used in the Old Testament to describe someone who was despised and cursed:

2 Samuel 9:8, "And he bowed himself, and said, What is thy servant, that thou shouldest look upon such a dead dog as I am?"

2 Samuel 16:9 Then said Abishai the son of Zeruiah unto the king, Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? let me go over, I pray thee, and take off his head."

2 Kings 8:13, "And Hazael said, But what, is thy servant a dog, that he should do this great thing? And Elisha answered, The LORD hath shewed me that thou shalt be king over Syria."

Matthew 15:27 And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters" table.

Matthew 15:27Comments - The Syro-Phoenician woman was saying that even a dog has a right to eat some of the bread at its master's table. One preacher paraphrases the woman's reply by saying, "You can call me anything you want; just call me when it's time to eat."

Illustration- One spring I watched a robin catch a moth in the grass. As the moth fluttered in its mouth, another smaller bird followed, trying to steal this moth. Suddenly the moth escaped. As it flew off, the smaller bird quickly chased it and caught it in mid-air before the robin had an opportunity to recapture its prize. The point is that through persistence and chance, the smaller bird gained the food which did not belong to it.

Matthew 15:28 Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.

Matthew 15:28Comments - Matthew's account of the Syro-Phoenician woman tells us that her great faith made her daughter whole ( Matthew 15:28), a compliment that Jesus gave to only two individuals, both of whom were Gentiles, the other being the Roman centurion ( Matthew 8:10).

Matthew 8:10, "When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel."

Matthew 15:29-39 — Jesus Feeds the Four Thousand ( Mark 8:1-10) - Matthew 15:29-39 records the story of Jesus feeding the four thousand by the Sea of Galilee.

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

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

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

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

Matthew 19:2, "And great multitudes followed him; and he healed them there."

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

Matthew 15:37 And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets full.

Matthew 15:37Comments - I do not think that the disciples picked up seven baskets of crumbs off of the ground and gathered them into baskets. Rather, Matthew 15:37 means that during the breaking of the loaves and distributing them in baskets, there was more than enough left over after handing everyone one food. When the disciples gathered themselves back to Jesus with what was left in their hands, they had seven baskets.

Matthew 15:38 And they that did eat were four thousand men, beside women and children.

Matthew 15:39 And he sent away the multitude, and took ship, and came into the coasts of Magdala.

Matthew 15:39Comments - Scholars are uncertain of the region or town of ΄αγαδάν. The parallel passage in Mark 8:10 uses the name δαλμανουθά, which offers no additional insights since the location of this town is also uncertain.

Mark 8:10, "And straightway he entered into a ship with his disciples, and came into the parts of Dalmanutha."

The KJV uses the Greek word ΄αγδαλά based on variant readings from other ancient Greek manuscripts. Scholars presume that Mary Magdalene was from the city of Magdala ( Luke 8:2).

Luke 8:2, "And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils,"

 


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 15:4". Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ghe/matthew-15.html. 2013.

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