corner graphic   Hi,    
ver. 2.0.20.01.24
Finding the new version too difficult to understand? Go to classic.studylight.org/

Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Matthew 15

 

 

Verse 1

Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying,

The time of this section was after that Passover which was nigh at hand when our Lord fed the five thousand men (John 6:4) - the third Passover, as we take it, since His public ministry began, but which He did not keep at Jerusalem for the reason mentioned in John 7:1.

Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of, [ apo (G575) - or 'from'] Jerusalem. Mark says they "came from" it; a deputation probably sent from the capital expressly to watch Him. Since He had not come to them at the last Passover, which they had reckoned on, they now come to Him. "And," says Mark, "when they saw some of His disciples eat bread with defiled, that is to say, with unwashen, hands" - hands not ceremonially cleansed by washing - "they found fault. For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft" [ pugmee (Greek #4435)] - literally, 'in' or 'with the fist;' that is, probably, washing the one hand by the use of the other-though some understand it, with our version, in the sense of 'diligently,' 'sedulously' - "eat not, holding the tradition of the elders;" acting religiously according to the custom handed down to them. "And when they come from the market" [ Kai (Greek #2532) apo (Greek #575) agoras (Greek #58)] - 'And after market;' after any common business, or attending a court of justice, where the Jews, as Webster and Wilkinson remark, after their subjection to the Romans, were especially exposed to conversation and contact with pagans - "except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups and pots, brazen vessels and tables" [ klinoon (Greek #2825)] - rather 'couches,' such as were used at meals, which probably were merely sprinkled for ceremonial purposes. "Then the Pharisees and scribes asked Him," saying,


Verse 2

Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.

Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.


Verse 3

But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?

But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? The charge is retorted with startling power: 'The tradition they transgress is but man's, and is itself the occasion of heavy transgression, undermining the authority of God's law.'


Verse 4

For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death.

For God commanded, saying (Exodus 20:12; etc.), Honour thy father and mother: and (Exodus 21:17; etc.), "He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death."


Verse 5

But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me;

But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift , [ Dooron (Greek #1435)] - or simply, 'A gift!' In Mark it is, "Corban!" [ qorban (Hebrew #7133)] - that is, 'An oblation!' meaning, any unbloody offering or gift dedicated to sacred uses.

By whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me;


Verse 6

And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.

And honour not his father or his mother, [he shall be free] - q.d., 'It is true, father-mother-that by giving to thee this, which I now present, thou mightest be profited by me; but I have gifted it to pious uses, and therefore, at whatever cost to thee, I am not now at liberty to alienate any portion of it.' "And," it is added in Mark, "ye suffer him no more to do anything for his father or his mother." To dedicate property to God is indeed lawful and laudable, but not at the expense of filial duty.

Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect , [ eekuroosate (Greek #208)] - 'cancelled' or 'nullified' it-by your tradition.


Verse 7

Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying,

Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying (Isaiah 29:13).


Verse 8

This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.

This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.


Verse 9

But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. By putting the commandments of men on a level with the divine requirements, their whole worship was rendered vain-a principle of deep moment in the service of God. "For," it is added in Mark 7:8, "laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups; and many other such like things ye do." [Tregelles brackets all the words after "men" in this verse as of doubtful authority; but we see no ground for this: Tischendorf inserts the whole as in the receives text.] The drivelling nature of their multitudinous observances is here pointedly exposed, in contrast with the manly observance of "the commandment of God;" and when our Lord says, "Many other such like things ye do," it is implied that He had but given a specimen of the hideous treatment which the divine law received, and the grasping disposition which, under the mask of piety, was manifested by the ecclesiastics of that day.


Verse 10

And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand:

And he called the multitude, and said unto them. The foregoing dialogue, though in the people's hearing was between Jesus and the Pharisaic cavillers, whose object was to disparage Him with the people. But Jesus, having put them down, turns to the multitude, who at this time were prepared to drink in everything He said, and with admirable plainness, strength, and brevity lays down the great principle of real pollution, by which a world of bondage and uneasiness of conscience would be dissipated in a moment, and the sense of sin be reserved for deviations from the holy and eternal law of God.

Hear and understand:


Verse 11

Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.

Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man. This is expressed even more emphatically in Mark (Mark 7:15-16), and it is there added, "If any man have ears to hear, let him hear." [Tregelles brackets this little verse here, as wanting in some good manuscripts; but Tischendorf, we think rightly, gives it as in the received texts.] As in Matthew 13:9, this so oft-repeated saying seems designed to call attention to the fundamental and universal character of the truth it refers to.


Verse 12

Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying?

Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying? They had given vent to their irritation, and perhaps threats, not to our Lord Himself, from whom they seem to have slunk away, but to some of the disciples, who report it to their Master.


Verse 13

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

But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. 'They are offended, are they! Heed it not: their corrupt teaching is already doomed; the Garden of the Lord upon earth, too long cumbered with their presence, shall yet be purged of them and their accursed system; yea, and whatsoever is not of the planting of My heavenly Father, the great Husbandman (John 15:1), shall share the same fate.'


Verse 14

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

Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch. Striking expression of the ruinous effects of erroneous teaching!


Verse 15

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

Then answered Peter and said unto him - "when He was entered into the house from the people," says Mark - "Declare unto us this parable."


Verse 16

And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding?

And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding? Slowness of spiritual apprehension in His genuine disciples grieves the Saviour: from others He expects no better (Matthew 13:11).


Verse 17-18

Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught?

Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth ... Familiar though these sayings have now become, what freedom from bondage to outward things do they proclaim, on the one hand, and on the other, how searching is the truth which they express-that nothing which enters from without can really defile us; and that only the evil that is in the heart, that is allowed to stir there, to rise up in thought and affection, and to flow forth in voluntary action, really defiles a man!


Verse 19

For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:

For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts , [ dialogismoi (Greek #1261) poneeroi (Greek #4190)] - 'evil reasonings;' referring here more immediately to those corrupt reasonings which had stealthily introduced and gradually reared up that hideous fabric of tradition which at length practically nullified the unchangeable principles of the moral law. But the statement is far broader than this, namely, that the first shape which the evil that is in the heart takes, when it begins actively to stir, is that of 'considerations' or 'reasonings' on evil that is in the heart takes, when it begins actively to stir, is that of 'considerations' or 'reasonings' on certain suggested actions.

Murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies , [ blasfeemiai (Greek #988)] - 'detractions,' whether directed against God or man: here the reference seems to be to the latter. Mark adds, "covetousnesses" [ pleonexiai (Greek #4124)] - or desires after more; "wickednesses" [ poneeriai (Greek #4189)] - here meaning, perhaps, 'malignities' of various form; "deceit, lasciviousness" [ aselgeia (Greek #766)] - meaning, 'excess' or 'enormity' of any kind, though by later writers restricted to lewdness; "an evil eye" - meaning, all looks or glances of envy, jealousy, or ill-will toward a neighbour; "pride, foolishness" [ afroosunee (Greek #877)] - in the Old Testament sense of "folly;" that is, criminal senselessness, the folly of the heart. How appalling is this black catalogue!


Verse 20

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

These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man. Thus does our Lord sum up this whole searching discourse.

Remarks:

(1) There is a principle at the bottom of such traditional practices as are here exposed, without the knowledge of which we cannot rightly improve the teaching of our Lord on the subject. Be it observed, then, that the practices here referred to, though based only on "the tradition of the elders," might seem, even to conscientious Israelites, in the highest degree laudable. It was a ceremonial economy they lived under; and as one principal design of this economy was to teach the difference between clean and unclean by external symbols, it was natural to think that the more vividly and variously they could bring this before their own minds, the more would they be falling in with the spirit and following out the design of that economy. Such are the plausibilities by which most of the symbolical features of the Romish ritual are defended. Nor is it merely as acts of will-worship, without divine warrant, that they are to be condemned, but as tending to weaken the sense of divine authority for what IS commanded by mixing it up with what is purely human, though originally introduced with the best intentions. Examples of this deep principle will readily occur-such as the effect, everywhere seen, of observing a multitude of saints' days in weakening the sense of the paramount claim of "the Lord's Day."

(2) When we read here of the detestable pretexts under which those Jewish ecclesiastics suffered no more their deluded followers, when once they had them committed to some rash pledge, "to do anything for their father or mother," who can help thinking of the clergy of the Church of Rome, who have served themselves heirs to the worst features of Rabbinical Judaism?

(3) If it be true that to multiply human devices for strengthening the force of religious principles in the life tends to draw the attention so far off from the divine law enjoining duty, and to rivet it upon the human device for securing obedience to it, may it not be worthy of the consideration of Christians whether, when sin is committed in spite of these devices, the breach of their own pledges is not apt to trouble them more than that of the divine law, which they were designed to fortify? But we would not press this too far; and there certainly are cases where evil habits, when inveterate, require restraints which in other cases are superfluous. It is to the former only that we refer.

(4) If nothings outward can defile, it is obvious that nothing purely outward can sanctify-as the Church of Rome teaches that Sacraments, for example, do of themselves [`ex opere operate']. "God is a Spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth."


Verses 21-28

Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon.

For the exposition, see the notes at Mark 7:24-30.


Verses 29-39

And Jesus departed from thence, and came nigh unto the sea of Galilee; and went up into a mountain, and sat down there.

For the exposition, see the notes at Mark 7:31-37; Mark 8:1-10.

Verse 1-12 For the exposition, see the notes at Mark 8:11-21.

The time of this section-which is beyond doubt, and will presently be mentioned-is of immense importance, and throws a touching interest around the incidents which it records.

 


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Matthew 15:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/matthew-15.html. 1871-8.

Lectionary Calendar
Friday, January 24th, 2020
the Second Week after Epiphany
ADVERTISEMENT
Commentary Navigator
Search This Commentary
Enter query in the box below
ADVERTISEMENT
To report dead links, typos, or html errors or suggestions about making these resources more useful use our convenient contact form
Powered by Lightspeed Technology