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Bible Commentaries

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

Matthew 8



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Verse 1

Matthew 8:1. ἠκολούθησαν, followed) They did not immediately leave Him.

Verse 2

Matthew 8:2. λεπρὸς, a leper) The most grievous diseases were leprosy (cf. with this passage 2 Kings 5:7), paralysis (cf. Mark 2:3 with Matthew 8:6) and fever (see Matthew 8:14). It is probable that the leper(355) had listened to our Lord’s discourse from a distance.— ἐὰν, κ. τ. λ., if, etc.) the leper does not doubt our Lord’s power, but he humbly rests the event upon His will alone. Faith exclaims, if Thou wilt, not, if Thou canst; see Mark 9:22.— δύνασαι, Thou canst) At the commencement of His ministry, the chief object of Faith was the omnipotence of Jesus. This faith the leper might have conceived from His discourse.

Verse 3

Matthew 8:3. τήν χεῖρα, His hand) to which the leprosy, that would have polluted others, was compelled to yield.— θέλω, I will) corresponding to, If thou wilt. A prompt echo to the matured faith of the leper. The very prayer of the leper contained the words of the desired reply. The expression, I will, implies the highest authority. Our Lord performed His first miracles immediately, that He might not appear to have had any difficulty in performing them: but after He had established His authority, He frequently interposed a delay salutary to men.

Verse 4

Matthew 8:4. ΄ηδενὶ, to no one) sc. before you have gone to the priest, lest the priests, if they had heard of it before, should deny that the leprosy had been really cleansed; sc. to no one of those who had not witnessed the miracle.— σεαυτὸν, thyself) not by means of another.— εἰς μαρτύριον, for a testimony) See John 5:36. Thus the LXX. use the word μαρτύριον in Ruth 4:7.(356) The priests did not follow our Lord: He sends the leper to them from Galilee to Jerusalem: He was much in Galilee at that time.— αὐτοῖς, to them) that a testimony might he exhibited to them of the Messiah’s presence, and of His not derogating from the law, and that they too might thus be enabled to give testimony to these facts.

Verse 5

Matthew 8:5. προσῆλθεν ἀυτῷ ἑκατόνταρχος, There came unto Him a centurion) The centurion did not actually come to Him in person; nor would our Lord have praised him, as He did just afterwards, in his presence.—Sec Matthew 8:10, and cf. ch. Matthew 11:7. Others, indeed, were praised by our Lord in their presence, but not until after previous humiliation, and not so singularly and in comparison with others as the centurion is here praised in contradistinction to all Israel. And the same reverence, which induced the centurion to declare himself unworthy that our Lord should come under his roof, prevented him from going to Him in person.—See Matthew 8:8, and Luke 7:7; Luke 7:10.(357) He appears to have come out of his house in the first instance, but to have gone back before he had reached our Lord. The will, therefore, on his part was held in Divine estimation as equivalent and even preferable to the deed: and this estimation is nobly expressed by St Matthew in the sublime style of a divine rather than a human historian. Jesus and the centurion conversed truly in spirit.

Verse 6

Matthew 8:6. λέγων, saying) cf. ch. Matthew 11:3, and Luke 14:18.— παραλυτικὸς, a paralytic) Paralysis is a disease difficult to Physicians.

Verse 7

Matthew 8:7. ἐλθὼν, coming) In His Divine wisdom, our Lord puts forth those addresses by which He elicits the profession of the faithful, and thus as it were anticipates them: which is the reason why men of those times received a swifter, greater, and more frequent effect from heavenly words than they do now. He declares Himself ready to come to the centurion’s servant. He does not promise that He will do so to the nobleman’s son. By each method He arouses faith, and shows that He is no respecter of persons.

Verse 8

Matthew 8:8. στέγην, roof) Although not a mean one, cf. Luke 7:5. There were others whose reverence did not prevent them from seeing and touching the Lord, see ch. Matthew 9:18; Matthew 9:20. The same internal feeling may manifest itself outwardly in different modes, yet all of them good.— εἰπὲ λόγῳ, command by word) Thus does the centurion declare his belief that the disease will yield to our Lord’s command. Some few copies have rather more carelessly, εἰπὲ λόγον,(358) say the word.— ἰαθήσεται, shall be healed) The centurion replies by this glorious word: our Lord had said modestly, θεραπεύσω,” I will cure.(359) παῖς μου, my boy) A kinder mode of speech than if he had said δουλός μου, my slave.

Verse 9

Matthew 8:9. καὶ γὰρ ἐγὼ, for I also) Reason might object, “The slave and the soldier hear the command without difficulty; not so the disease.” The wisdom of faith, however, shining forth beautifully from the military abruptness with which it was expressed, does away with this objection, and regards rather those considerations which confirm, than those which might destroy (frangant) hope; those, namely, which arise from the supreme dominion and jurisdiction of Christ,(360) who issued His injunctions to the sea, and the winds, and diseases; see Matthew 8:26; Luke 4:39. HE commands: the thing is done. The centurion can command soldier and slave, but not disease; the Lord, however, can order the disease, and that more easily, humanly speaking, than the will of man, who is frequently rebellious.— ἄνθρωπός εἰμι ὑπὸ ἐξουσίαν, I am a man under authority) He does not say, I am a military officer, but since he is obliged to mention that others are subject to him, he says with great delicacy,(361) I myself am subject. There is also a concealed antithesis,(362) sc. Jesus is supreme Lord, souverain.— ὑπὸὑπʼ, under—under) Such persons are at present called subalterns.

Verse 10

Matthew 8:10. ἐθαύμασε, wondered) Faith and unbelief were both the objects of Christ’s wonder; see Mark 6:6. Our Lord praises His friends warmly, where there is an opportunity for so doing. See ch. Matthew 11:7, Matthew 15:28, Matthew 25:35, Matthew 26:10; Luke 7:44; Luke 21:3.— ἐν τῷ ἰσραὴλ, in Israel) sc. the people of Israel. Neither the centurion nor the woman of Canaan were of Israel; but with regard to the latter, our Lord may seem to have given a higher testimony, because she came openly from the coasts of the Gentiles, whereas the former had dwelt in Israel: and the centurion himself anticipated that objection (id occupavit), when he declared himself to be unworthy, and interposed the elders of the Jews between himself and our Lord.— τοσαύτην, so great) especially as the centurion had had much less intercourse with our Lord [than His brethren according to the flesh]. His faith was an example and earnest of the faith by which the Gentiles would surpass the Jews.— πίστιν, faith) From this first mention of faith in the New Testament, we may gather that faith (as well as unbelief) is in both the understanding and the will, being the result of deliberation and free choice.(363) See the concordances on the word πειθω.(364) Of all the virtues evinced by those who came to the Lord, He is wont to praise faith alone. See ch. Matthew 15:28; Luke 7:50.(365)οὐδὲεὒρον, I have not found) though I have come to seek it.

Verse 11

Matthew 8:11. πολλοὶ, many) who, being not Jews, are similar to the centurion. This is intended to awaken the emulation of the Jews.— ἀπὸ ἁναταλῶν, from the east) see ch. Matthew 2:1,—from the east and from the west; an euphemism for “from the Gentiles.”— ἥξουσι, shall come) A prophecy: they shall come in spirit [and by faith.—V. g.]— μετὰ, together with) see Hebrews 12:23.(366)ἐν τῇ βασιλείᾳ, in the kingdom) sc. in this life, and in that which is to come.

Verse 12

Matthew 8:12. οἱ δὲ υἱοὶ τῆς βασιλείας, but the children of the kingdom) i.e. nearest heirs to the kingdom. The same title is employed with another meaning in ch. Matthew 13:38.— σκότος, darkness) Whatever is without the kingdom of God is outer: for the kingdom of God is light, and the kingdom of light. That darkness will envelope not only the eye, but also the mind, with the grossest obscurity.— ἐξώτερον, outer) the unbeliever has internal darkness in himself already, and obtains, therefore, external darkness also as his fitting home. And the nearer that any one might have approached [to the Divine presence], so much the further will he be cast forth into the depths of darkness.— ἐκεῖ, there) at length [even though not here and now]. Without the brilliant scene of the feast [the marriage supper so often mentioned].— ) a remarkable article, used emphatically.(367) In this life, grief is not yet really grief.— κλαυθ΄ὸς, weeping) Then will weep heroes now ashamed to weep, from grief at the good they have lost, and the evil they have incurred. Oh horrible sound of so many wretched beings! how far more blessed to hear the sounds of heaven!—See Revelation 14 etc.— βρυγμὸς τῶν ὀδόντων, gnashing of teeth) from impatience and bitterest remorse, and indignation against themselves, as being the authors of their own damnation.(368) Self-love, indulged on earth, will then be transformed into self-hate, nor will the sufferer be ever able to depart from himself. Nor is this weeping and gnashing of teeth combined with darkness only, but also with fire, etc.; see ch. Matthew 13:42; Matthew 13:50; Luke 13:28. Another exposition is, the soft will weep, the stern will rage. The same phrase occurs in Acts 7:54.(369)

Verse 13

Matthew 8:13. ὡς ἐπίστευσας, as thou hast believed) A bountiful concession.

Verse 14

Matthew 8:14. πενθεράν, mother-in-law) Peter had not long before married a wife, and they are guilty of a mistake who paint him with white hair;(370) for all the disciples were young, and had a long course to perform in this world; see John 21:18.(371) This must be well kept in mind in every Evangelical History.(372)πυρέσσουσαν, sick of a fever) in the actual paroxysm.

Verse 15

Matthew 8:15. διηκόνει αὐτῶ, waited upon Him) She performed the duty of the house-mother (mater-familias), as a joyful sign of her entire restoration to health. St Mark and St Luke mention the disciples as preferring the request in favour of Peter’s mother-in-law, and therefore add— διηκόνει αὐτοῖς, she waited upon THEM, sc. the Lord and His disciples. St Matthew mentions only the Lord, and therefore wrote αὐτῳ. The erroneous reading, αὐτοῖς, has been introduced from the other Evangelists.(373)

Verse 16

Matthew 8:16. ὀψίας, evening) of that day on which so much had been said and done. Diseases are wont to be more oppressive at eventide.— τὰ πνεύματα, the spirits) i.e. the devils.— λόγῳ, with a word(374)) by that alone.(375)πάντας, all) without exception: some men are said to have a healing power in the case only of certain special diseases.

Verse 17

Matthew 8:17. ὅπως πληρωθῇ, that it might be fulfilled) It behoved that the Physician of the soul should also remove bodily complaints from those who came in His way.(376) In this manner also, therefore, was fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah. Body and soul together form one man: the corrupting principle of both soul and body is one [namely sin]; one and the same aid was given to both by this great Physician, as the case required.— ἔλαβε, took) i.e. removed from us.

Verse 18

Matthew 8:18. ἀπελθεῖν, to depart) Thus Jesus sought repose, and gave to the people time to bear fruit from His teaching, and kindled their interest in Himself for the future.

Verse 19

Matthew 8:19. εἷς γραμματεὺς, κ. τ. λ., one Scribe, etc.) Out of so great a multitude, this man alone exhibits such an emotion. Yet he seems to have been fond of comfort, a Scribe less hardy than the fishermen. The Scribes came often to tempt our Lord.

Verses 19-21

Matthew 8:19-21. εἶπεν, said) The doctrine of Jesus Christ is clearly opposed to the natural will of man. He wisely sent away those who endeavoured to follow him wrongly or unseasonably; see Mark 5:18. Those who showed a hesitation in following Him, He commanded to follow Him. He treated the Scribes in one way, the disciples in another; see Luke 9:57-62.— διδάσκαλε, Teacher(377)) Jesus did not address those as Rabbi and Lord, who were called so by human law or custom, but he was deservedly addressed as such by them. See Mark 5:35; John 3:2; John 4:49; Matthew 8:6. The apostles addressed their hearers as brethren and fathers: our Lord never did so.

Verse 20

Matthew 8:20. καὶ λέγει αὐτῷ ἰησοῦς, κ. τ. λ., and Jesus saith unto him, etc.) Our Lord does not repulse this man, but he proposes a condition by which to correct the view with which he made the offer respecting comfort or wealth, or even the power of working miracles.— υἱὸς τοῦ ἁνθρώπου, the Son of man) See Gnomon on ch. Matthew 16:13.— οὐκ ἔχει, κ. τ. λ., hath not, etc.) O admirable poverty and endurance, combined with perpetual pilgrimage.(378)

Verse 21

Matthew 8:21. ΄αθητῶν, of the disciples) of those, namely, who were not always present.

Verse 22

Matthew 8:22. τοὺς νεκροὺς, the dead) An expression urgently commanding the man to follow Him, and therefore embracing many things. Both the dead who are to be buried, and the dead who are to bury them, must come under consideration. The dead who are to be buried, are without doubt those literally dead, whether the father of this disciple was already then dead or old, and near to death, and with only this one son. Cf. Tobit 14:12. The dead who bury, or those to whom the burial of the dead should be left, are partly those who are also about to die, mortals bound to the law of death (cf. Romans 8:10), as distinguished from the hope of a better life—that hope, however, being not altogether taken away. The appellation is to be limited by the context: as in Luke 20:34, they, who nevertheless are capable of being saved, are called the children of this world; so they are called dead, who are more fit for burying than for announcing the kingdom of God. As in ch. Matthew 9:24, the girl is called not dead, who soon shall live (cf. John 11:4), so they are called dead, who soon shall die.(379) In the time of pestilence, the dead are buried by those who soon themselves die. Nor is the case very different with successive generations of mortals in the course of ages. Partly, they are already dead; and with regard to them the expression is hypothetical, with this meaning—Do thou follow Me, and leave the burial of the dead to the dead themselves; i.e. Let the dead, as far as you are concerned, remain unburied. A similar mode of expression occurs in Exodus 21:14, Let the murderer be taken from the altar: i.e. let him be slain, even if he has fled to the altar. The appellation, therefore, of the dead who bury, is abrupt, and suitable to a command which could brook no delay—a command which had sacred grounds, and flowed from the divine perception of the Saviour. We ought to surrender ourselves wholly and immediately.— τοὺς ἑαυτῶν, their own) sc. relatives. See Genesis 23:4. It was the duty of this disciple to deny his father.(380)

Verse 23

Matthew 8:23. τὸ πλοῖον, the vessel) The article refers by implication to Matthew 8:18. Jesus had a moving school: and in that school His disciples were instructed much more solidly than if they had dwelt under the roof of a single college, without any anxiety or temptation.

Verse 24

Matthew 8:24. σεισμὸς μέγας, a great tempest) The faith of the disciples was greatly exercised by these maritime perils.— καλύπτεσθαι, was covered) the danger reached the highest pitch: then came the succour.— ἐκάθευδε, slept) No fear fell on Jesus. Nay, in Matthew 8:26, He marvelled at the fear of men, even in the utmost peril. He slept, wearied by the various labour of the day.

Verse 25

Matthew 8:25. σῶσον, save) An abrupt prayer.— ἀπολλύμεθα, we perish) It is a proof of candour in the disciples to have recorded their own weaknesses: this was not, however, difficult to them, since after the coming of the Paraclete they had become other men.

Verse 26

Matthew 8:26. (381) δειλοὶὀλιγόπιστοι, fearful—of little faith) Synonymous terms. Cf. Mark 5:36. Our Lord does not find fault with the disciples for their importunity in disturbing His rest, but for their timidity.(382)τότε, then) Jesus calmed first the minds of His disciples, then the sea.— ἐπιτίμησε, rebuked) Satan probably had ruled in this tempest.

Verse 27

Matthew 8:27. ὑπακούουσιν αὐτῷ, obey Him) Cf. Mark 1:27. The winds and the sea acknowledge no other control.(383)

Verse 28

Matthew 8:28. γεργεσηνῶν,(384) of the Gergesenes) Gerasa (said for Gergescha) and Gadara were neighbouring cities.(385) See Hiller’s Onomata Sacra, pp. 807, 812.— ἐκ τῶν μνημείων, from the tombs) The possessed avoid human society, in which the exercises of piety flourish. Invisible guests also have their dwelling in sepulchres (See Mark 5:3); those which are malignant, especially, I believe in the sepulchres of the impious.— παρελθεῖν, pass by) not even pass by.

BC δ, Syr. (Peschito) and Harcl. (txt.) Syr. read γαδαρηνῶν. Lachm. reads γερασηνῶν with bcd Vulg. Hilar. 645, and D apparently (its Latin having this reading). γεργεσηνῶν has but second-rate authorities, LX. etc. Memph. Goth. The variety probably arose from the parallel passages being altered from one another. Tregelles (Printed Text of N. T. p. 192) has shown Origen, iv. 140, γαδαρηνῶν, does not refer to Matthew exclusively, but to the Gospel narration generally. It proves the name was sometimes read γαδαρηνοὶ, sometimes γερασηνοὶ, and that γεργεσηνοὶ was not a then known reading, but was his mere conjecture.—ED.

Verse 29

Matthew 8:29. τί ἡμῖν καὶ σοὶ, what have we to do with Thee?) A formula of declining interference or intercourse. See S. V. 1 Kings 17:18; Judges 11:12; 2 Kings 3:13. They confess in this address their despair and horrible expectation, and at the same time they seem to add, “we desire to have dealings, not with Thee, but with men liable to sin.”— υἱὲ τοῦ θεοῦ, Son of God) Men seeking aid addressed Him with confidence as the Son of David; devils with terror, as the Son of God.— ὧδε, hither) The devils claimed, as it were, some right in that place, and especially over the swine in that place.— πρὸ καιροῦ, before the time) This may be construed either with ἦλθες, hast Thou come, or with βασανίσαι, to torment, or with both. Jesus came indeed when the world was ripe for His coming, and yet sooner than the enemy desired. Thus in Romans 5:6, we read χριστὸςκατὰκαιρὸνἀπέθανε, IN DUE TIME Christ died.— βασανίσαι, to torment) It is torment for the devils to be without the bodies of man or beast, which they ardently desire to possess, that they may thereby, for the time being, extinguish that fire with which they are always burning. See Matthew 8:31. This was a prelude to their being hereafter placed in subjection under the feet of Jesus.

Verse 30

Matthew 8:30. χοίρων, of swine) The owners of the swine were either heathens dwelling among the Jews, or Jews greedy of gain.

Verse 31

Matthew 8:31. παρεκάλουν, besought) It is one thing to ask in an ordinary way (in which manner natural men, and even devils, have been ere now able to obtain something(386)), and another thing to pray in faith. Even Satan himself sometimes obtains his request, as we learn from the first chapter of Job.— εἰ, κ. τ. λ., if, etc.) They perceived already that they must change their abode.— ἐπίτρεψον ἡμῖν, κ. τ. λ., suffer us, etc.) The mischief should be ascribed to the devils, not to the Lord; and who would compel Him to hinder the devils?

Verse 32

Matthew 8:32. ἀπῆλθον, they were come out) Our Lord performed one miracle by which He inflicted punishment on a tree, namely, a fig tree; another on swine; another on men buying and selling in the temple. A specimen of future vengeance. His other miracles were full of grace; and even in these benefit was produced, as, for example, in the present case, a road rendered safe, a region freed from spirits to which it was liable, by their being driven into the sea, the possessed liberated, an excessive quantity of animal existence removed which was forbidden to be eaten, and in this case liable to be possessed by devils. And the Gergesenes were guilty, and deserved to lose the herd. The circumstance shows indisputably the right and the authority of Jesus.— ἀπέθανον, died) It seems that a possessed brute cannot live long. That men who are possessed do not thus perish immediately, is an especial mercy of God.

Verse 33

Matthew 8:33. οί βόσκοντες, they who fed) Although they were not professedly herdsmen by occupation.— ἔφυγον, fled) The devils could not overtake them.

Verse 34

Matthew 8:34.(387) παρεκάλεσαν, they besought) Those who are held fast by concern about their property, more easily and readily repel than pursue. Even avarice is timid. Or perhaps they besought our Lord with no evil feeling.(388) See Luke 5:8.(389)


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Bibliography Information
Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Matthew 8:4". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. 1897.

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