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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary
Matthew 15

 

 

Verse 1

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

Ver. 1. Then came to Jesus] Then, when the men of Gennesaret favoured and observed him. Satan stomacheth the prosperity of God’s kingdom in any place, and stirreth up his to oppose it. Esau began with Jacob in the womb, that no time might be lost. As soon as ever the Church’s child was born the devil sought to drown him, Revelation 12:15

Scribes and Pharisees] Learned and lewd; these are Christ’s greatest enemies, hypocrites especially, those night birds that cannot bear the light of true religion, but, as bats, beat against it.

Which were of Jerusalem] That faithful city was now become a harlot, her silver was degenerated into dross, her wine mixed with water, Isaiah 1:22. The sweetest wine turns into the sourest vinegar, the whitest ivory burned, into the blackest coal. So about the year 1414, Theodoricus Urias, in Germany, an Augustine friar, complained, not without cause, Ecclesiam Romanam ex aurea factam argenteam, ex argentea ferream, ex ferrea terream, superesse ut in stercus abiret. Machiavel observed that there was nowhere less piety than in those that dwelt nearest to Rome. {a}

{a} Machiavel. Disput. de rep. lib. 1, cap. 12.


Verse 2

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

Ver. 2. Transgress the tradition of the elders] They cried up aloud traditions and the authority of antiquity. Similem hodie dicam Papistae nobis scribunt. For as the philosophers fled and hid themselves in the heretics, as one saith, so did the Scribes and Pharisees in the Popish doctors. Non tam ovum ovo simile; one egg or apple is not so like another as Pharisees and Papists. The Pharisees deemed it as great a sin to eat with unwashen hands as to commit fornication. Similiarly, the Papists count it worse to deface an idol than to kill a man, to eat flesh or eggs on a fasting day than to commit incest, and for a priest to have one wife than ten harlots. παραδοσις, say some, is the number of the Beast, 666. Pareus in loc.


Verse 3

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

Ver. 3. He answered and said unto them] He shapes them an answer by way of recrimination ( αντδγκλημα); which is a singular means of conviction to the adversary, but hard to be done by us without some mixture of bitterness, such as was that in David to Michal, 2 Samuel 6:21.

Transgress the commandment of God by your tradition] God’s commands should be kept as the apple of the eye, Proverbs 7:2. They are broken by omissions, commissions, and failings in the manner; like as a man may miss the mark by shooting short, or beyond, or wide. These Pharisees, as those Athenians of old (whereas they had most excellent laws, but most lawless natures), chose rather to live by their lusts than by their laws. {a} They had many traditions and unwritten verities, pretended to be invented and prescribed them by their elders, that by the observation thereof they might be the better enabled to keep God’s commandments. These traditions they styled Mashlamnathoth, completions or perfections; because thereby they conceited that the written law was made more complete and perfect. And say not the Papists as much of their traditions? Buxtorf. Tiber.

{a} Athenienses cum haberent aequissima iura, sed iniquisima ingenia, moribus suis quam legibus, uti malunt. Valer. Max.


Verse 4

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

Ver. 4. For God commanded, saying] This is called the first commandment with promise, viz. the first affirmative commandment, or the first in the second table; or the first of all the ten with promise. {a} For that in the second commandment is rather a declaration of God’s justice and mercy, and that to the observers of the whole law; but here is a particular promise made to them that keep this particular commandment.

Honour thy father and mother] Among other good offices, nourish and cherish them, as Joseph did Jacob and his family, Chepi tappam, as a man nourisheth his little ones, lovingly and tenderly, Genesis 47:12; be unto them as Obed was to Naomi, "a restorer of her life, and a nourisher of her old age," Ruth 4:15. This the apostle commends to us, as a thing not only good before men, but acceptable before God, 1 Timothy 5:4. This the stork and the mouse teach us, by their singular love to their aged sires, Plin. x. 23. Cornelius was the staff of his father’s age, and thereby merited the honourable name of Scipio among the Romans. Epaminondas rejoiced in nothing more than that he had lived to cheer up the hearts of his aged parents by the reports of his victories. Our parents are our household gods, said Hierocles. {b} Aeneas is surnamed Pius, for his love to his father, whom he bore upon his back out of the fire of Troy. And Aristotle tells how that when from the hill Aetna there ran down a torrent of fire that consumed all the houses thereabouts, in the midst of those fearful flames God’s special care of the godly shined most brightly. For the river of fire parted itself, and made a kind of lane for those who ventured to rescue their aged parents, and pluck them out of the jaws of death. {c}

He that curseth father or mother] That giveth them an ill word ( κακολογων), or but an ill look; for vultu saepe laeditur pietas. "The eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it." {d} Now they are cursed with a witness, whom the Holy Ghost thus curseth in such emphatic manner, in such exquisite terms.

{a} Ephesians 6:2. εντολη properly signifieth an affirmative commandment. See Dr Gouge on Dom. Duties.

{b} οι γονεις ημων θεοι εφεστιοι.

{c} πλησιον γαρ αυτων γενομενος πυρος ποταμος εξεσχιθη. Arist. de Mundo, cap. 6.

{d} Proverbs 30:17. Effossos oculos voret atro gutture corvus. Catul.


Verse 5

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;

Ver. 5. But ye say, Whosoever, &c.] The intolerable covetousness of the priests bred this abominable corruption of this commandment, as it did many other like. {a} {See Trapp on "John 2:14"} {See Trapp on "John 2:15"} By the same arts at this day the Lady of Loretto, as they call her, hath her churches so stuffed with vowed presents and memories, as they are fain to hang their cloisters and churchyards with them. The rood of grace in this kingdom had a man within it, enclosed with a hundred wires to make the image goggle with the eyes, nod with the head, hang the lip, move and shake his jaws, according as the value was of the gift that was offered. If it were a small piece of silver, he would hang a frowning lip; if a piece of gold, then should his jaws go merrily. The like was done by the blood of Hales, brought afterwards by the Lord Cromwell to Paul’s Cross, and there proved to be the blood of a duck. In the year 1505, Pope Alexander sent a bull of pardons for money into England, dispensing thereby with such as kept away, or by any fraud had gotten, the goods of other men, which they should now retain still without scruple of conscience, so as they paid a ratable portion thereof to his Holiness’ receivers. This was pure Pharisaism.

It is a gift by whatsoever, &c.] Some read it thus, by "Corban, or by this gift, if thou receive any profit by me;" understand, then let God do thus and much more to me, q.d. by Corban thou shalt receive no profit by me. Others thus, Corban, anathema sit, be it a devoted thing whatsoever I may profit thee by: {b} q. d. Being consecrated to God, it shall be beneficial to us both, and not here only in this life, but hereafter in that to come, whereas cost bestowed upon parents soon vanisheth, and reacheth no further than the life present.

{a} η φιλοχρηματια μητηρ κακοτητος απασης.

{b} ο εαν, si quicquam, ut Matthew 10:14; Matthew 23:18; Scultet.


Verse 6

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.

Ver. 6. And honour not his father and his mother] Supple, insons erit. Our Saviour contents himself to relate the first words only of the tradition, as lawyers use to do the first words of the statute or canon they quote or argue upon.

Thus have you made the commandment of none effect] {a} Ye have sought to shoulder God out of his throne, to divest and spoil him of his rule and authority, to ungod him, as it were, by making his commandment void and invalid. And do not Papists as much as all this, while they teach that a monk may not leave his cloister to relieve his father, but must rather see and suffer him to die for hunger in the streets. Lyra hath these very words, Filius per professionem factam in religione, excusatur a subveniendo parentibus. This Lyra was a famous English Jew, but an arrant Papist, as for the most part all were then, for he flourished A.D. 1320.

{a} ηκυρωσατε, of α and κυρος, rule, authority.


Verse 7

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

Ver. 7. Well did Esaias prophesy of you] Of such as you, and so of you too. The prophets and apostles then spake not of them only with whom they lived, and to whom they wrote (as the Jesuits blaspheme), but their oracles and doctrines do extend still to men of the same stamp and making. "In the volume of thy book it is written of me," saith David, Psalms 40:7; he found his own name in God’s book. And where he spake with Jacob at Bethel, there he spake with us, saith Hosea; {Hosea 12:4} and, "Whatsoever was written, was written for our learning," saith Paul, Romans 15:4.


Verse 8

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

Ver. 8. This people draweth nigh unto me, &c.] And they are no changelings, for at this day, although they know better, and can write upon the walls of their synagogues this sentence, Tephillah belo cauvannah cheguph belo neshamah, that is, Prayer without the intention of the mind, is but as a body without a soul, yet shall not a man anywhere see less intention than in their orisons. "The reverence they show" (saith Sir Edwin Sands, who saw it) "is in standing up at times, and the gesture of adoration in the bowing forward of their bodies. For kneeling they use none (no more do the Grecians), neither stir they their bonnets in their synagogues to any man, but remain still covered. They come to it with washen hands, and in it they burn lamps to the honour of God, {a} but for any show of devotion or elevation of spirit, that yet in Jews could I never discern, but they are as reverent in their synagogues as grammar boys are at school, when their master is absent. In sum, their holiness is the very outward work itself, being a brainless head and soulless body." Thus he.

And honoureth me with their lips] But prayer is not the labour of the lips, but the travail of the heart; the power of a petition is not in the roof of the mouth, but root of the heart. To give way to wilful distractions, is to commit spiritual whoredom in God’s presence. Is it fit to present the king with an empty cask; or to tell him a tale with our backs towards him? Behold, "I am a great King," saith God; and they that stand before him, "must look to their feet," saith Solomon, that they stand upright, and that they offer not a heartless sacrifice, for that is the "sacrifice of fools," Ecclesiastes 5:1, and ever held ominous.

But their heart is far from me] And so all they do is putrid hypocrisy. God loves "truth in the inward parts," Psalms 41:6, and calls for the heart in all services, as Joseph did for Benjamin, as David did for Michal, "Thou shall not see my face, unless thou bring it." In all spiritual sacrifices we must bring him the fat and the inwards. The deeper and hollower the belly of the lute or viol is, the pleasanter is the sound; the fleeter, the more grating and harsh in our ears. The voice which is made in the mouth is nothing so sweet as that which cometh from the depth of the breast. Ephesians 6:6; "Do the will of God from the heart." But woe be to all careless professors, to all loose and ungirt Christians! the Lord will make all the churches to know "that he seareheth the hearts and reins," and that "he will kill with death" all such as had rather seem to be good than seek to be so, Revelation 2:23.

{a} Sic ut posset quivis animo advertere quod server illam pro consuetudine potius quam pro religione reverentiam. De Theodorico, Sidonius, Epist. i. l.


Verse 9

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

Ver. 9. But in vain do they worship me] For they lose their labour, and, which is worse, they commit sin. Displeasing service is double dishonour, as dissembled sanctity is double iniquity.

Teaching for doctrines the commandments of men] So do Papists. The pope can do all things that Christ can do, saith Hostiensis. He can of wickedness make righteousness, saith Bellarmine; of virtue, vice; of nothing, something. His determinations are ipsissimum Dei verbum, the very word of God, saith Hosius. Murders, treasons, thefts, &c.-there is no command of the moral law, but they can dispense with it; but none of their ceremonial law. Let God, say they, look to the breach of his own law, we will look to ours. Heathen Socrates and Cicero shall rise up against these pseudo-Christians, and condemn them. God, said Socrates, will he worshipped with that kind of worship only which himself hath commanded. He will not be worshipped, said Cicero, with superstition, but with piety: Deus non superstitione coli vult sed pietate.


Verse 10

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

Ver. 10. And he called the multitude] The Pharisees, those deaf adders, since they would not be charmed, Christ will lose no more sweet words upon them; but turns them up as desperate, with this inscription on their foreheads: Noluerunt incantari; I would have healed these hypocrites, but they would not be healed. Yea, "When I would have healed Ephraim, then" (to cross me) "their iniquity was discovered," as the leprosy in their foreheads, Hosea 7:1. And from such uncounselable and incorrigible hearers, if a minister depart, he doth but his duty; the desertion is on their part, and not on his. "The manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal," 1 Corinthians 12:7.


Verse 11

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

Ver. 11. Not that which goeth into the man, &c.] Whether with clean or foul hands, taken meat makes not the man guilty of God’s wrath. What! not if abused to surfeiting and drunkenness? saith Bellarmine, who is angry with Christ for this doctrine (as making against theirs directly), and therefore seeks to disprove him. We answer for and with Christ: that he speaks here of the moderate use of meats, which is indifferent. As for the abuse of it to surfeiting and excess, this is an evil that cometh out of the heart, and defileth the man, as being a flat breach of the law of God, who everywhere condemns it.

But that which cometh out of the mouth] That is, out of the heart, that muck hill, through the mouth, as through a dung port, that defileth a man worse than any outhouse can do. Hence sin is called filthiness, abomination, the vomit of a dog, the devil’s excrements, &c. The very visible heavens are defiled by it, and must therefore be purged by fire, as those vessels were that held the sin offering. As for the soul, sin sets such ingrained stains upon it, as nothing can fetch out but the blood of Christ, that spotless Lamb.


Verse 12

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

Ver. 12. Knowest thou that the Pharisees, &c.] q.d. Why dost thou then thus call the people to thee, and exclude them? It was a commendable charity in the disciples, to desire the better information of those that had cautiously accused them, Matthew 15:2, and to tender their salvation. "Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good." Speciosius aliquanto iniuriae beneficiis vincuntur quam mutui odii pertinacia pensantur, saith a heathen, Val. Max. iv. 2.


Verse 13

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

Ver. 13. Every plant which my heavenly Father hath not planted] viz. By election, and watered by vocation. These Pharisees were reprobates, designed to detection here, and to destruction hereafter. Therefore as it is no wonder, so it is no matter, though they "stumble at the word, being disobedient, since hereunto they were appointed," 1 Peter 2:8. Let them "stumble, and fall, and be broken, and snared, and taken," Isaiah 8:15. Christ is to reprobates a "rock of offence;" but such a rock as that, 6:21, out of which goeth fire and consumeth them.


Verse 14

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

Ver. 14. Let them alone] A dreadful doom; like that, Hosea 4:14; "I will not punish your daughters when they commit whoredom," &c. No so great punishment as not to be punished. And, Hosea 4:17; of that same chapter, "Ephraim is joined to idols, let him alone:" q.d. he hath made a match with mischief, he shall have his belly full of it. Never was Jerusalem’s condition so desperate as when God said unto her, "My fury shall depart from thee, I will be quiet, and no more angry," Ezekiel 16:42. A man is ever and anon meddling with his fruit trees, paring and pruning, &c.; but for his oaks, and other trees of the forest, he lets them alone, till he comes, once for all, with his axe to fell them.

Both shall fall into the ditch] Though the blind guides fall undermost, and have the worst of it.


Verse 15

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

Ver. 15. Declare unto us this parable] It was no parable, but a plain discourse, and easy to be understood, had not they been dull of hearing, and somewhat soured with the pharisaical leaven of the necessity of washing hands before meat: though for that time, by a singular providence of God, they neglected; which both gave occasion to the Pharisees’ quarrel, and to this question, whereto our Saviour maketh a most plain and plenary answer.


Verse 16

16 And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding?

Ver. 16. Do not ye yet understand?] What! not at these years, and after so long standing? Will ye stand till ye wax sour again, and not give yourselves wholly to these things, that your profiting may appear to all? {a} Is it not a shame to have no more wit at sixty years old than at six? to be "always learning, yet never come to the knowledge of the truth?" God expects a proportion of skill and holiness according to the time and means men have had, Hebrews 5:12.

{a} 1 Timothy 4:15. ’ ακμην adhuc pro κατα ακμην, at these years; now that you are at full stature, and in your full vigour?


Verse 17

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

Ver. 17. Whatsoever entereth in at the mouth] In nature, Animantis cuiusque vita est fuga. Life, were it not for the repair by daily nourishment, would be soon extinguished, Hence it is called, "The life of our hand," because maintained by the labour of our hands, Isaiah 5:7; Isaiah 5:10. But that which our Saviour here driveth at is, to set forth the ridiculous madness of the Pharisees, while they placed a kind of holiness in those things that were evacuated and thrown into the draught. And do not Papists the very same? Qui gustavit ovum trahitur in carcerem, cogiturque de haeresi causam dicere, saith Erasmus. To eat flesh, or but an egg, in Lent, is punished with death. Whereas in the year of Christ 330, Spiridion, a godly bishop in Cyprus, having not what else ready to set before a guest that came to him in Lent, set him a piece of pork to feed on. And when the stranger made scruple of eating flesh in Lent, saying, I am a Christian, and may not do it: Nay, therefore thou mayest do it, said he, because "to the pure all things are pure," and the kingdom of God consists not in meats and drinks, &c., Romans 14:20.


Verse 18

18 But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.

Ver. 18. Come forth from the heart] That forth of sin and fountain of folly; for "as a fountain casteth forth her waters, so doth the heart of man cast out its wickedness," Jeremiah 6:7; and if the tongue be "a world of wickedness," James 3:6, what is the heart, that seminary of sin, wherein is a πανσπερμια, as Empedocles saith in Aristotle. {a} In this sea are not only that leviathan the devil (who there sets up his forts and strongholds, 2 Corinthians 10:4, and doth intrench and incage himself), but creeping things innumerable, Psalms 104:26, making that which should be the temple of God a den of thieves, a palace of pride, a slaughter house of malice, a brothel house of uncleanness, a raging sea of sin, Isaiah 57:20, a little hell of black and blasphemous imaginations. The natural man lies rotting in the grave of corruption, wrapped up in the winding sheet of hardness of heart and blindness of mind, and (as a carcase crawleth with worms) swarming with those noisome lusts, that were able to poison up an honest heart.

{a} As in that chaos, Genesis 1:2, were the seeds of all creatures; so in the heart, of all sins.


Verse 19

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

Ver. 19. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts] These are the first and immediate issue of the sinful soul; words and deeds, borborology {a} and enormity, follow in their order. "And I dare be bold to say," saith a reverend divine, {b} "that though the act contract the guilt, because the lust is then grown up to a height, so that it is come to an absolute will in execution, yet the act of adultery and murder is not so abominable in God’s eyes, as the filthiness of the spirit; for it is the spirit that he mainly looks to," &c. Think not then that thought is free, for as inward bleeding will kill, so will concupiscence, whatever the Papists say in favour of it, as a condition of nature: and hence flow most of their most dangerous opinions, as justification by works, state of perfection, merit, supererogation, &c.

{a} Filthy talk. ŒD cites Trapp as using it in 1649 in this verse

{b} D. Preston of God’s attributes.


Verse 20

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

Ver. 20. These are the things which defile a man] Make him a loathsome leper in God’s sight, his heart being a filthy dunghill of all abominable vices, his life a long chain of sinful actions, a very continued web of wickedness. And whereas repentance is the soul’s vomit, and confession the spunge that wipes out all the blots and blurs of our lives, that cunning manslayer holds the lips close that the heart may not disburden itself by so wholesome evacuation, and doth what he can to hinder the birth of repentance, that fair and happy daughter of an ugly and odious mother, sin. {a}

{a} εχθρου πατρος φιλτατον τεκνον.


Verse 21

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

Ver. 21. Into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon] That royal exchange of the world, as one calleth it. Hither retired our Saviour, as tired out with the Jews’ perverseness. And here it’s like he did much good, according to that which was prophesied, Isaiah 23:18. Sure it is, that whereas here he would have hidden himself, he could not, for the woman of Canaan came and fell at his feet as a suppliant for her daughter.


Verse 22

22 And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.

Ver. 22. And cried unto him] One copy hath it, "And cried behind him," {a} which implies either that Christ had turned his back upon her, seeing her now coming towards him; or else that she was abashed to come into his presence, as being of an accursed kindred, devoted to destruction.

Have mercy upon me, O Lord] She acknowledged her own sin in her daughter’s sufferings. So did that other good woman, 1 Kings 17:18. Her son was dead, her sin was called to remembrance. And so must we see ourselves beaten on our sick children’s backs, as David did, 2 Samuel 12:16, and be humbled, labouring to mend by education what we have marred by propagation.

Thou Son of David] Thou that wast thyself born of a woman, pity a woman; thou that hast the bowels of a man in thee, hide not thine eyes from thine own flesh.

My daughter is grievously vexed with a devil] The devil doth his worst to her, therefore help. Misery makes men eloquent, beyond truth many times: but surely this woman’s case was very doleful. It was her daughter, dear to her as her own soul, -Filia, quasi φιλη. The Greeks call children φιλτατα, the Latins cara. {b} And those at Rome that prayed and sacrificed whole days that their children might be superstites, long lived, these were first called superstitious persons. Quod nomen patuit postea latius, saith Cicero (De Nat. Deor.). The word afterwards came to be of larger signification. This (perhaps only) daughter was vexed and "grievously vexed," and that "of a devil;" who ever busy enough to do mischief, yet then chiefly bestirred him to set up his kingdom, when Christ came to pull it down: and as he once strove with Michael about a dead man’s body, but it was that he might thereby set up himself in living men’s souls; so he still seeks to possess himself of our bodies, that thereby he may the better wind and work himself into our hearts.

{a} Mark 7:24, εκραξεν οπισω αυτου, a tergo eius.

{b} Lambin. in Menech. Plauti, Act. i. scen. 1. Domi domitus fui usque cum charis meis.


Verse 23

23 But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us.

Ver. 23. But he answered her not] Tacet ore, sed loquitur ei spirit, ut fortius clamet, saith an interpreter. Christ answereth her not with his mouth, but speaketh unto her by that sweet and secret voice of his Spirit, to cry louder. No man prays heartily but he hath so much comfort, at least, that he will come again to God, who secretly supports his suppliants, and by that peace inconceivable guards their hearts and minds that they pray and faint not ( φρουρησει), Philippians 4:7.

Send her away, for she cries] Men may be tired out with incessant suits, as the unjust judge was, and as these disciples were weary to hear the poor woman’s outcries, repeating the same request over and over. Give her, therefore, say they, either an alms or an answer, that she may be silenced, and we eased. But it is otherwise with God, the more often we come to him the better welcome; the louder we cry, the sooner we are heard; and the often repetition of the self-same petition, till we put the Lord out of countenance, put him (as you would say) to the blush, and even leave a blot in his face, as the Greek word signifies, Luke 18:5; ( υπωπαιζη), this is the best melody we can make him. He looks out of the casements of heaven on purpose to hear it.


Verse 24

24 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

Ver. 24. But unto the lost sheep, &c.] He was properly the apostle of the circumcision, Romans 15:8; Hebrews 3:1, till the wall of partition was broken down by his resurrection. Then the veil rent, and it was open tide. Then he became a light to lighten the Gentiles, as well as he was the glory of his people Israel.


Verse 25

25 Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me.

Ver. 25. Then came she and worshipped him] She will not be said nay, or set down either with silence or sad answers; but, like another Gorgonia, she threatens heaven, and is (as her brother speaks of her) modestly impudent and invincible. She will believe, as a man may say with reverence, whether Christ will or not. And to bring her to this it was that he so long held her off, for, Desideria dilata crescunt; at cito data vilescunt. (Nazianzen.) Manna, that light meat, was but lightly set by, because lightly come by. But they that earn it before they eat it, and that know how they come by that which they have, will set a high price upon it, and know how and why they part with it.

Lord, help me] Few words, but very forcible. When thou comest before God, "let thy words be few," saith Solomon, Ecclesiastes 5:1. This St Peter calls "to be sober in prayer," 1 Peter 4:7, without trifling, or vain babbling, which the wise man calls "the sacrifice of fools." The Baalites’ prayer was not more tedious than Elijah’s short, and yet more pithy than short, charging God with the care of his covenant, truth, glory, &c. {a} It was Elijah that prayed loud and long, though in few words, yet very effectual. Fratres Egyptiaci brevissimis et raptim iaculatis orationibus uti voluerunt (saith Augustine), ne par moras evanesceret et hebetaretur intentio. Those ancient Christians of Egypt were very brief in their prayers.

Help me] The word properly signifieth to run at one’s cry that calls for help, {b} as the tender mother doth to her hungry child, when he sets up his note, and cries lustily.

{a} Orationis brevitas pathos habet. Aretius in loc.

{b} βοηθειν, quasi επι βοην θειν, ad clamorem alicuius accurrere auxilii ferendi causa. Beza.


Verse 26

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

Ver. 26. And to cast it to dogs] To whelps, saith St Mark. {a} So he calls her bitch, her daughter whelp. This might have easily damped and discouraged her. But she was that well-resolved Christian, whose part Luther saith it is to believe things invisible, {b} to hope for things deferred, and to love God when he shows himself most angry with him, and most opposite to him. Our Saviour was no sooner gone from this Canaanitess, but he heals the deaf and dumb man (though far weaker in faith than her) at first word, Mark 7:33; Matthew 15:30, the Galileans no sooner laid their sick and lame friends at his feet, but he cured them without any more ado. He is "a God of judgment," Isaiah 30:18, and knows how and when to deal forth his favours. He lays heaviest burdens on the strongest backs and proportions our afflictions to our abilities, holding us off for deliverance till he finds us fit for it, and giving us hearts to wait and want it till his time is come.

{a} κυναριοις, catellis, ut maiore contemptu loqui videretur. Beza.

{b} Credere invisibilia, sperare dilata, et amare Deum se ostendentem contrarium. Luth.


Verse 27

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

Ver. 27. Truth, Lord] ναι, κυριε. This is particula assentientis et obsecrantis. How strangely doth God enable and enlarge his weak people many times in prayer! they are carried beyond themselves in a wonderful manner, and though otherwise rude in speech, and unlettered, yet then they have words at will, far above natural apprehension, and such as they are not able to repeat again; being, for the time, lost in the endless maze of spiritual ravishments, and ascending, with the Church, in those pillars of incense, out of this wilderness of the world, Song of Solomon 5:6.

Yet the dogs eat of the crumbs] Lo, she locks herself within Christ’s denial, and picks an argument of speeding out of a repulse; she gathereth one contrary out of another by the force of her faith. See the like, Deuteronomy 32:36; 2 Kings 14:26. Going into captivity was a sign of the Israelites returning out of captivity. Be it that I am a dog, saith this brave woman, yet some crumbs of comfort, Lord. Dogs, though they may not eat the children’s meat (if they offer to do it, they are shut out of doors), yet, if children fully fed crumble their meat and make waste of it, as they will, and as the Jews now do, may not the Gentile dogs lick up those leavings? Thus she reasons it, and thus she makes use of anything she can lay hold of, whereby she may hope the better to prevail. Those that are hunger starved are glad to feed upon hedge fruit, and will make hard shift rather than perish. So, faithful hearers are not delicate, hut can "suffer an exhortation," Hebrews 13:22, hear a reproof, yea, suck honey, with the bee, out of bitter thyme.


Verse 28

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.

Ver. 28. O woman, great is thy faith] Our Saviour had both reproached and repulsed her. Now he both graceth and gratifieth her; grants her request, and more, together with a high commendation of her heroic faith, which is here found beforehand to "praise and honour and glory," 1 Peter 1:7.


Verse 29

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

Ver. 29. And came nigh to the sea of Galilee] Where, though he had lately been tired out, yet he will try again. Ministers must have patience with a perverse people, not resolving, as Jeremiah once in a pet, to speak no more to them in the name of the Lord, but proving if at any time God will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth, &c., 2 Timothy 2:25. I beseech you (said Mr Bradford to one with whom he had taken great pains, but to no great purpose), I pray you, I desire you, I crave at your hands with all my very heart; I ask of you with hand, pen, tongue, and mind, in Christ, for Christ, through Christ, for his name, blood, mercy, power and truth’s sake, my most entirely beloved, that you admit no doubting of God’s final mercies toward you, howsoever you feel yourself, &c. Of this good martyr it is said, that in travailing with his own heart he would never give over till he had made somewhat of it; as in confession, till his heart melted; in seeking pardon, till quieted; in begging grace, till warmed and quickened: so in dealing with others he practised that which St Austin persuadeth every preacher to do, so long to beat upon and repeat the same point, till by the countenance, but especially by the conversation, of his hearers, he perceive that they resent and relish it. "Knowing the terror of the Lord," saith Paul, "we persuade men," 2 Corinthians 5:11; we give them not over till we have prevailed with them and subdued them, though never so knotty and knorly.

And went up into a mountain] Either to pray, or to preach, or to rest and repose himself; but that would not be, for great multitudes resorted to him. The sun set on high cannot he hidden, no more can Christ in the mount.


Verse 30

30 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:

Ver. 30. Having with them those that were lame, blind, &c.] All these infirmities are fruits of sin (which hath made the world an oecumenical hospital) and accidents of life; for that which befalleth any man, may befall every man. {a} The privative favours that God shows us here (saith Gerson) are more than the positive: meaning by privative, God’s preserving us from manifold mischiefs and miseries by his manutension. {b} They that are received in heaven are out of the gun shot; for there is no more sickness, nor sorrow, nor crying, nor pain, for the former things are passed, Revelation 21:4. All corruptions, temptations, affliction, which stand, some above us, some about us (as the insulting Philistines about blind Samson), shall end with the same blow, fall with the same clap with ourselves. At Stratford-le-Bow were two martyrs burned at one stake (in the days of Queen Mary), Hugh Laverock, an old lame man, and John A. Price, a blind man. At their death, Hugh, after he was chained, casting away his crutch, and comforting the other, he said to him, Be of good comfort, my brother, for my Lord of London is our good physician: he will heal us shortly, thee of thy blindness, and me of my lameness. And so patiently they suffered.

{a} Cuivis potest contingere quod cuiquam contigit. Mimus.

{b} Multo plures sunt gratiae privativae quam positivae. Gerson.


Verse 31

31 Insomuch that the multitude wondered, when they saw the dumb to speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to see: and they glorified the God of Israel.

Ver. 31. They glorified the God of Israel] They saw God in those miraculous cures and gave him his due praise. He is content that we should have the comfort of his benefits, so he may have the glory of them; that’s all the rent and return he looks for. All the fee Christ required for his cures was, "Go and tell what God hath done for thee; go show thyself to the priest, and offer," &c. But we, instead of being temples of God’s praise, become many times graves of his benefits. This made good David so often to put the thorn to his breast, Psalms 103:1-3; and King Alphonsus not so much to wonder at his courtiers’ ingratitude to him, as at his own to God.


Verse 32

32 Then Jesus called his disciples unto him, and said, I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with me now three days, and have nothing to eat: and I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way.

Ver. 32. I have compassion on the multitude] My bowels yearn towards them. Neither is he less loving, now that he is in heaven, towards his poor penniless, necessitous people on earth; but when they are hardest put to it, and haply have not a cross to bless themselves with, as the proverb is, he so graciously provides, that though the young lions (or the strong ones, as the Septuagint have it) do lack and suffer hunger, yet they that seek the Lord want nothing that’s good for them, Psalms 34:10. Aaron, though he might not bewail the death of his two sons, Leviticus 10:3; Leviticus 10:6-7; Leviticus 10:19, because he was high priest, yet his bowels of fatherly affection towards them could not be restrained. Christ retaineth still compassion, Hebrews 4:5, though free from personal passion; and, though freed from feeling, hath still yet a fallow feeling, Acts 9:5; Matthew 25:35; " Manet compassio etiam cum impassibilitate, " saith Bernard.

Because they continue with me now three days] The Lord takes punctual and particular notice of all circumstances, how far they came, how long they had been there, how little able they were to hold out fasting to their own homes, &c. And so he doth still recount how many years, days, hours we have spent with him; what straits, losses, heats, colds, dangers, difficulties we have encountered with and passed through; all is exactly registered in his book of remembrance; "I know thy work, and thy labour," saith he, Revelation 2:19. Men take much pains many times, and none regard it, reward it. But Christ takes notice, not of his people’s works only, but of their labour in doing them, that he may fully recompence their labour of love, their loss of goods, &c. The godly shall know in themselves, not only in others, in books, &c., that they have "a better and an enduring substance," Hebrews 10:34.


Verse 33

33 And his disciples say unto him, Whence should we have so much bread in the wilderness, as to fill so great a multitude?

Ver. 33. Whence should we have, &c.] See their stupidity and diffidence, yet still budging and breaking out upon all occasions. {a} What a life hath Christ with the best of us, ere he can bring us to anything? Corruption will have stone flurts, some outbursts. Nothing cleaves to us more pertinaciously than this evil heart of unbelief; like a fretting leprosy in our cottages of clay, though the walls be well scraped, yet it will never utterly be gone, till the house be demolished.

{a} Discipuli ut homines nimis homines, &c. Aret. in loc.


Verse 34

34 And Jesus saith unto them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven, and a few little fishes.

Ver. 34. Seven, and a few little fishes] Before, he had fed five thousand with fewer loaves. God can as easily maintain us with a little as with more; witness Daniel’s pulse, and Elijah’s cake on the coals and cruse of water, 1 Kings 19:6; Luther’s herring, and Junius’s one egg a day, when means were short with him, by reason of the civil wars in France, so that he could not hear from his friends. It is not by bread only that man liveth, but by the word of God’s blessing that maketh it nourishable. As if he break the staff of bread, that is, his own blessing, which is the staff whereon bread (that staff of life) leaneth, it can neither feed nor fill, make men neither fuller nor fatter.


Verse 35

35 And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground.

Ver. 35. To sit down on the ground] He intended them not only a running banquet, a slight come off, but a full feast, a good meal, and therefore bade them sit down and feed their fill. It was indeed on the bare ground that they sat; but so do the greatest lords in Turkey to this day; they sit at meat, with their legs gathered under them, flat upon the ground; and their cheer, when they feast most sumptuously, is only rice and mutton, with fair water out of the river.


Verse 36

36 And he took the seven loaves and the fishes, and gave thanks, and brake them, and gave to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.

Ver. 36. And gave to his disciples] So confuting their unbelief, and confirming their faith for the future. And the like he doth for us every time we receive the sacrament of his Supper. He bespeaks us there, as he did peremptory Thomas, John 20:27.

And the disciples to the multitude] This is Christ’s course to this day; by the hands of his faithful ministers to deal forth his favours, to give his Holy Spirit, which is, to give all good things, Matthew 7:11; cf. Luke 11:13, by the preaching of faith. This manna comes down from heaven in the dews of the ministry, Numbers 11:9; 1 Peter 1:22. If our eyes see not our teachers, we cannot expect to hear the voice behind us, Isaiah 30:20.


Verse 37

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

Ver. 37. They did all eat and were filled] They did eat to satiety, as men use to do at feasts, where the tables seem to sweat with variety. The Greek word here is, in its proper signification, used of fatting cattle, that have grass up to the eyes, such as is that in some parts of Ireland, where they are forced to drive out their cattle sometimes from the pastures into the commons, lest they should surfeit and spoil themselves. {a}

Seven baskets full] These baskets were bigger and of larger capacity than those coffins, Matthew 14:20. We read of Paul let down by the wall in a basket, Acts 9:25. {b} It was such a vessel then that a man might sit in it: as the former may seem to have been no larger than a pie or pasty, the outside whereof, from the Greeks, we call a coffin.

{a} εχορτασθησαν. Hoc propric dicitur de armentis. Nam χορτον Graeci vocant gramen aut pabulum. Beza.

{b} κοφινος, σπυρις, sporta.


Verse 38

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

Ver. 38. And they that did eat] {See Trapp on "Matthew 14:21"} Herein was the majesty of the miracle, that there was no proportion between the men and the meat.


Verse 39

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

Ver. 39. And he sent away the multitude] Not without a blessing, and a great deal of good counsel. "Labour not for the meat which perisheth," &c. Amend your lives, for the kingdom of heaven is come home to you. Now that you have eaten and are full, beware that you forget not the Lord your God, &c., Deuteronomy 8:10-11. Be not as children, with whom eaten bread is soon forgotten. This was wholesome counsel, and far better than their good cheer; for this would stick by them. Deal we so by our guests.

And came into the coasts of Magdala] This is held to be Mary Magdalene’s country, better known by her than she was by it, as the island of Co was by Hippocrates, and Hippo by Austin.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Matthew 15:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/matthew-15.html. 1865-1868.

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Friday, May 29th, 2020
the Seventh Week after Easter
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