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Bible Commentaries

John Broadus' Commentary on Matthew

Matthew 8

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-17

Matthew 8:1-17.
A Group Of Miracles

In Matthew 8:1 to Matthew 9:34, we find a group of remarkable miracles. Having completed his sketch of the Sermon on the Mount, the Evangelist returns to the state of things described before its introduction. (Matthew 4:23-25) Our Lord was making a circuit of Galilee, followed by "great multitudes" (Matthew 4:25); on some occasion during the journey, moved by the presence of such crowds, (Matthew 5:1) he went up into the mountain, and addressed to the disciples and them a long discourse (Matthew 5-7), designed to set forth the nature of the Messianic reign, and correct many Jewish errors concerning it. When he had finished this and descended, "great multitudes" still followed him. And now having given this great specimen of our Lord's teaching, the Evangelist proceeds is (Matthew 8:1 to Matthew 9:34) to group some striking examples of his miracles, which show that if he taught as one having authority, (Matthew 7:29) he acted in like manner; and which threw light on the nature of his work as Messiah. In connection with these miracles, Matthew also gives an account (Matthew 9:9-17) of his own call to follow Jesus. When we compare the Gospels of Mark and Luke, we find several of these miracles, and the attendant sayings, introduced there in such connections as to show that they did not occur in the precise order in which they are here mentioned. Some of them appear to have taken place before the delivery of the Sermon on the Mount, though during this journey about Galilee (see on "Matthew 5:1"), and others at various subsequent times in the course of our Lord's labours in Galilee. They are grouped by Matthew without any particular regard to the chronological order, but in such a way as to promote the special design of his historical argument. Following upon these examples of our Lord's teaching (Matthew 5-7), and his miracles (Matthew 8-9), we shall find (Matthew 10), an account of his sending forth the Twelve, that they likewise may teach and work miracles (See on "Matthew 9:35").

The three first miracles here grouped involve the healing of very grievous diseases-leprosy, paralysis, severe fever.

I. Matthew 8:2-4. Healing Of A Leper;

also given, with some additional particulars, in Mark 1:40-45, Luke 5:12-16.

Matthew 8:2. And, behold. This expression by no means necessitates the supposition that the incident occurred just after the close of the Sermon on the Mount. From the connection in Mark and Luke, it seems very likely, though not certain, that it preceded the delivery of that discourse. As to the locality, Luke tells us that it was 'in one of the cities,' i. e., of Galilee. There came to him. The words 'to him' represent a slight correction of the common Greek text. A leper. The horrible disease of leprosy appears to have been particularly common among the Egyptians and the Israelites. The climate of Egypt was suited to aggravate the disease, and it may be that the Israelites there acquired a constitutional tendency to it, as supposed by Strabo and Tacitus. Various questions concerning leprosy still remain quite unsettled. The Greek word (lepra), from which our word is borrowed, was derived from lepis, 'a scale,' thus signifying the scaly disease. Among the many kinds of leprosy which seem to have existed in ancient and in modern times, that of the Bible appears to have been not the elephantiasis, or knotty leprosy, now often seen in Palestine, but the "white leprosy." It began with a small spot, scab, or swelling, lying lower than the surface of the skin, and the hair within it turning white. This would spread, and raw flesh would appear. In bad cases, large portions, and sometimes the whole of the body would assume a chalky whiteness; the nails, and sometimes the hair, fell off, and in some varieties the senses became blunted, and highly offensive pus gathered on the hair and flowed from the nose. But it is not certain that all these symptoms pertained to the Bible leprosy. It does seem nearly certain that, while hereditary, often for several generations, it was not a contagious disease, at least not in ordinary cases. The law of Moses treated it (Leviticus 13-14) as an extreme form of ceremonial defilement. When the disease spread over the whole person, the sufferer was pronounced clean, (Leviticus 13:12-17) and could freely associate with others; which appears to be conclusive proof that it was not contagious. The regulations requiring a leper to keep away from others, to cry "Unclean, unclean," etc., simply meant that one who touched a leper would become ceremonially unclean, as if he had touched a dead body, or a person having a running issue. (Leviticus 15:5) All these things were to be regarded as symbolically teaching the dreadful pollution of sin, and the need of purification; and no such symbol could be more impressive than a disease so hideous. The purifications when a leper had recovered (Leviticus 14) were quite similar to those prescribed for other kinds of grave ceremonial defilement. Leprosy was incurable by any known remedies, but would sometimes wear itself out in the course of time, in the individual, or in his descendants.

Worshipped. Compare on Matthew 2:2. He cannot have meant worship as of God, but a deeply reverential salutation. Luke (Luke 5:12) says he "fell on his face and besought him. "Matthew's imperfect tense depicts him as engaged in this reverential act. In like manner, Lord, the word used in the Sept. for Jehovah, which in the Epistles commonly means Jesus and appears there to recognize his divinity, was also used in Greek (and still is) as a common form of address, and is properly translated "sir" in Matthew 13:27, Matthew 21:30, Matthew 27:63, and often. What precise amount of respect it is to be understood as expressing in any case, must be determined from the connection. (See on "Matthew 8:19".) If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. He called the healing a cleansing, because the disease had the appearance of a defilement, and made one ceremonially unclean. He did not say, "If thou canst,"like the despairing father; (Mark 9:22) his only question was as to the Lord's willingness. (Compare below, Matthew 9:28) His language will express what is often felt by persons asking spiritual blessings; yet as to these we ought to have no doubt, either of the Saviour's power or his willingness.

Matthew 8:3. Put—or stretched—forth his hand, the circumstances minutely detailed, after the characteristic Hebrew style (compare on Matthew 5:2). 'Put forth,' Tyndale, etc., is too feeble; Rheims already has 'stretched forth.' The word 'Jesus' is wanting in several of the earliest MSS. and versions, and obviously was added in others to remove an apparent obscurity. So also in Matthew 8:5, Matthew 8:7. And touched him. This must have startled the beholders, for he seemed to be incurring ceremonial defilement; yet Jesus by touching did not receive defilement, but imparted cleansing. I will, be thou clean. "A ready echo to the leper's mature faith. His own saying contained the words of the desired response." (Bengel.) Every other worker of miracles in the Old or the New Testament constantly ascribes the power and the glory to another; Jesus alone uses such expressions as 'I will, be thou clean,' 'I charge thee, come out of him,' 'I say unto thee, arise.' (Compare on Matthew 5:22) There has been much discussion upon the question whether all who received bodily healing from Jesus, also received spiritual blessings. It seems plain that in many instances such was not the case; in others, the circumstances naturally lead us to think that the faith in his power to work miracles was also attended by faith in his power to forgive sins (compare on Matthew 9:2). Whether that was true of the leper here mentioned, we have no means of deciding.

Matthew 8:4. See thou tell no man. Why this prohibition? Partly, perhaps, (as some think), in order that the man might hasten to Jerusalem, and let the priests declare him healed before they should hear of the miracle, as otherwise they might, through jealousy of Jesus, pretend that the cure was not real and complete. But similar prohibitions are found in Matthew 9:30, Matthew 12:16, Matthew 16:20, Matthew 17:9, etc., and there must have been some general reason. There was danger that the people would become greatly excited, upon hearing of his miracles, with the idea that he was about to set up a splendid earthly kingdom, according to their erroneous notions of Messiah's work, (John 6:14 f.) and would thus arouse the hostility of the Jewish rulers and that of the Roman authorities, and interfere with his freedom in teaching. We see from Mark 1:45 (Luke 5:15) that by failing to regard this prohibition the cleansed leper actually caused a serious interruption of our Lord's labours. The exceptional case of Mark 5:19, Luke 8:39, proves the rule. Jesus there specially bids a man to publish what had been done for him; but there was in that region (southeast of the lake) no danger of a great popular excitement in favour of making him a king, but on the contrary a very unfavourable sentiment towards him, which it was desirable to correct. At a later period we find our Lord making a series of distant journeys, for the same purpose of preventing excitement among the people, as well as for other reasons (see on "Matthew 14:13", and compare on Matthew 4:12). We also see from Matthew 12:16-21, that his unostentatious and quiet course of action was predicted. Shew thyself, with emphasis on 'thyself,' as seen from its position in the Greek; (compare Mark 1:44) no mere report could convince a priest—the man must show himself. For a testimony unto them. This is connected not with Moses commanded, but with what precedes. 'Them' cannot refer to the priests, for they must decide that the man was healed before he could offer the gift. It must refer to the people in general, as suggested by 'tell no man,' and implied in tile whole connection. Such uses of 'them,' denoting persons or things only implied in the connection, are common in N. T. Greek (Buttm., p. 106), and indeed in the colloquial usage of all languages. The sacrifice, made after the regular examination by the priest, (Leviticus 14) would be a testimony to the people that the leper was thoroughly healed, and thus that the miracle was real; perhaps also a testimony (Chrys.) that Jesus observed the law of Moses, which they were already beginning to accuse him of disregarding. (Compare 'for a testimony' in Matthew 10:18, Matthew 24:14, Rev. Ver.) For general remarks on the miracles, see on "Matthew 4:24".

II. Matthew 8:5-13. Healing The Centurion's Servant;

described also in Luke 7:1-10.

The language of Luke 7:1 makes it plain that this occurred shortly after the delivery of the Sermon on the Mount.

And when Jesus,—or, when he, omitting the word 'Jesus,' as also in Luke 7:3. Into Capernaum, now his place of residence. See on "Matthew 4:13". A centurion. This was the title of one of the officers of a Roman legion, who commanded a hundred men, but had a more responsible and dignified position than our captain. It cannot be determined whether this centurion was in the service of Herod Antipas, Tetrarch of Galilee (see on "Matthew 2:20"), who would doubtless have his forces organized after the Roman fashion, and sometimes commanded by Roman officers, or whether he was connected with a Roman garrison of Capernaum, such as the Romans frequently maintained in nominally independent districts. He was a heathen, but a lover of the Jews, and had shown it by building the synagogue in which they then worshipped; (Luke 7:5) probably that large synagogue the foundations of which are now seen at Tel Hum. (See on "Matthew 4:13".) There were numerous instances of intelligent and right-minded heathen who, when brought in contact with the Jews, felt the superiority of their religion; e. g., Cornelius. (Acts 10:1) This centurion at Capernaum had probably known of the healing of the nobleman's son, (John 4:46 ff.) which took place there some time before, and this with other accounts of Jesus, had led to the fall belief that he could heal his servant. There came unto him, Luke (Luke 7:3 ff.) says that he sent the elders of the Jews, and afterwards some friends. Matthew omits these details, and represents the centurion as doing himself what he did through others. In like 'manner Mark (Mark 10:35) represents James and John as presenting to Jesus their ambitious request, without any mention of their mother, whom Matthew (Matthew 20:20) declares to have come with them and acted as spokesman. In John 3:22, we read that Jesus 'baptized'; in John 4:1 f., this is explained to mean that his disciples baptized. So in John 19:1, it is said that Pilate 'took Jesus and scourged him,' which of course he did not do with his own hands, but through his attendants. Compare also Matthew 14:10 with Mark 6:27; and see on "Matthew 14:19". Similar forms of statement are common among us, both in literature and in the language of common life; and there is a familiar law maxim, Qui facit per alium, facit per se: he who does a thing through another does it himself.

Matthew 8:6. Lord (see on "Matthew 8:2"), simply a very respectful address. My servant is, in Greek, clearly definite, and may mean either the only servant he possessed, or the only one he had with him at Capernaum, or the one that was then exclusively occupying his mind. 'Servant' (pais) is literally 'boy,' which term was used for a servant of any age, among the Hebrews, Greeks and Romans, as it was also used in the Slave States of this country;(1) compare the French garçon. (See further on "Matthew 12:18".) The Rheims version here translates 'boy'; Wyc. supposed it to mean 'child,' as all the early English versions wrongly supposed in Acts 3:13, Acts 3:26, Acts 4:27, Acts 4:30. Luke (Luke 7:2) has the term doulos, 'slave,' which is also used by Matthew in Matthew 8:9. It is idle for Weiss to take pais as here meaning 'son,' from his mere passion for multiplying discrepancies.

Luke says (Luke 7:2) 'who was dear unto him.' Josephus tells us that the Roman soldiers were followed by many servants, who "in peace constantly engaged in the warlike exercises of their masters, and in war shared their dangers." So a "Confederate" officer and the slave who attended him in camp would often risk their lives for each other, while his other slaves at home usually took the most faithful care of his wife and children. My servant—boy—lieth, literally, is prostrate, 'bed ridden.' Sick of the palsy—a paralytic (see on "Matthew 4:24"). Grievously tormented, or, 'terribly tortured.' Some diseases then classed as paralysis produce violent pain. Compare the case in 1 Maccabees 9:55 f. Luke adds (Luke 7:2 B. U.) that he was 'about to die.'

Matthew 8:7-9. Jesus saith, or, he says, Jesus omitted, as in Matthew 8:3, Matthew 8:5. I will come, with some emphasis on 'I'. This proposition, being reported to the centurion, brought out his humility and faith. A similar effect was produced on the Syro-Phoenician mother by refusal. (Matthew 15:26) Worthy, literally, not fit for thee to enter,(1) etc. He may have meant (Edersheim) that he was Levitically unfit, that to enter his home would render a Jew ceremonially unclean; but the additional and stronger expression in Luke 7:7 leaves no doubt that he was also humbly thinking of his moral unworthiness. Speak the word, or, more exactly, speak 'with a word' (Rev. Ver. margin). So the nobleman's son there at Capernaum had been healed with a word when at a distance. (John 4:50) The centurion proceeds to illustrate the power of a word of command, by referring to his own experience as an officer and a master. For I also am a man(2) under authority.... and I say, etc. It is plain that 'under authority' is opposed to 'having under myself soldiers' (Rev. Ver.)—notice the 'myself.' He is a subordinate commander, accustomed both to obey and to be obeyed, and he is confident that in like manner one word of command from Jesus will cure disease. There is involved a sort of personification of the disease, as in Luke 4:39, 'he rebuked the fever.' But what is the force of 'also'? (Com. Ver. followed Geneva in neglecting 'also,' which was given by Tyn., Great Bible, Rheims). The centurion evidently means that his case is like that of Jesus in regard to the word of command. Some think (Humphrey) that he regarded Jesus as under divine authority, while having power over disease. Or it may be that 'also' refers to the latter part of the statement: for I also am a (subordinate) commander, and my word of command is obeyed. To my servant, slave (see on "Matthew 8:6"). We cannot tell whether he meant the particular servant that was sick, or the servant to whom he spoke in any case.

Matthew 8:10. Marvelled—or—wondered. Here he wondered at faith; on another occasion, (Mark 6:6) at unbelief. We need not speculate about his wondering, nor weaken the statement by attempted explanations. Jesus wondered as a man, while as God nothing could be wonderful to him. It is only the same difficulty that we meet with in such facts as his growing in wisdom, and his not knowing the day and hour. Verily I say unto you, see on "Matthew 5:18". I have not found so great faith,(1) no, not in Israel. A similar case of great faith on the part of a heathen is found in Matthew 15:22 following. We feel sure that a person with such beautiful humility and such faith in the power of Jesus to work miracles, must have possessed, or would soon come to possess, faith in his power to forgive sins also. (Compare on Matthew 8:3) What our Lord thus strongly commends is not his humility, but that faith which is the root of every thing spiritual. (Compare Matthew 15:28, Luke 18:8) Observe that he does not express surprise at finding so great faith in a soldier. There is no warrant in Scripture for the notion of incompatibility between piety and the soldier's life.

Matthew 8:11. And I say unto you (see on "Matthew 5:18"), repeating the solemn affirmation of the preceding sentence, because he was about to say what the Jews would be slow to believe, and what was of the greatest importance. From the east and west, (compare Isaiah 45:6) from the farthest parts of the earth in every direction, from the remotest Gentile nations. Here is already an intimation that Christianity will spread to all nations. And shall sit down, literally recline (see margin Rev. Ver.), i. e., at table. The custom of the Persians, which spread to the Greeks and Romans, had also been adopted by the Jews, viz., to lie on a couch while eating. This was placed beside the table, and on it the person reclined leaning on his left elbow, so as to take food from the table with his right hand, while the feet extended obliquely to the outside of the couch. Thus the feet could be washed while one was reclining (Luke 7:38, John 13:4 f.); a man could lean his head back upon the breast, or lie "in the bosom" of one who reclined, behind him. (John 13:23, John 13:25, John 1:18, Luke 16:23) This luxurious mode of eating had not been the usage of their ancestors; (see Genesis 27:19, Judges 19:6, 1 Samuel 20:24 f., where the Hebrew determines it to have been really sitting) and the prophet Amos, (Amos 6:4, Amos 6:7) rebukes it as a part of the wicked luxury of the people, that they stretched themselves at their banquets. But in the time of our Lord it had become the universal custom, certainly at all formal meals, and to do otherwise would have seemed singular. Wherever in the N. T. 'sit,' 'sit down,' etc., are used with reference to eating, or where the phrase is 'sit at meat,' etc., the Greek always has some word denoting 'to recline'; and it is to be regretted that Rev. Ver. did not place this in the text rather than in the margin. Wyc., Tyn., and Great Bib. had 'rest,' Geneva and Rheims 'sit down.' With Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The Jews considered that their descent from these patriarchs made it certain that they would share with them the blessings of the Messianic reign; and the Rabbinical writings show that splendid entertainments, enjoyed with the patriarchs, belonged to their conception of the Messianic felicity, Here, as so often, our Saviour adapted himself to the common modes of expression. See the same image in Luke 14:15, Luke 16:28, the parables concerning feasts, and in Revelation 19:9. It was specially appropriate in the present case; the Jews would not at all eat with Gentiles; yet it is here declared that many Gentiles from every direction will recline at table with the great patriarchs, while Jews themselves shall be east out. This had been foreshadowed by the prophets but Israel was too blind now to see it. The Talmud says (Schoettgen): "In the future world I will spread for you a great table, which the Gentiles will see and be ashamed." Luke does not give this saying of our Lord with reference to the centurion, but in Matthew 13:39 he gives the same image as introduced on a different occasion. As to the phrase, kingdom of heaven, see on "Matthew 3:2". It must here refer to the future state.

Matthew 8:12. But the children—sons—of the kingdom. By a Hebrew idiom a variety of ideas of intimate relation or close connection are expressed by the use of 'sou' or 'child'; e. g., in Old Testament 'sons of Belial (wickedness)', as it were born of wickedness, deriving their very nature from wickedness. So with' children of disobedience', (Ephesians 2:2. Rev. Ver.) and 'children of obedience.' (1 Peter 1:14. Rev. Ver.) In 'children of wrath', (Ephesians 2:3)'children of cursing', (2 Peter 2:14, Rev. Ver.) we have a very strong expression of the idea that these persons are by their very nature objects of wrath, of a curse. 'The sons of this world' (Luke 16:8, Rev. Ver.) are wholly devoted to this world, as it were with a filial devotion. (See also on Matthew 9:15, Matthew 11:19, Matthew 13:38, Matthew 23:15, and compare 1 Maccabees 4:2.) 'The sons of the resurrection' (Luke 20:36, Rev. Ver.) are those who partake of it. And so 'the sons of the kingdom' here are the persons who are considered as having a right to its privileges by reason of their birth. Our Lord tells the Jews that strangers to the kingdom would come and enjoy its privileges, while its own sons would be cast out. Into (the) outer darkness. The image is derived from a brightly lighted mansion during an evening entertainment. Persons expelled from the house would find themselves in the darkness without. So in Matthew 22:13, Matthew 25:30, and compare 'the blackness of darkness forever' in Judges 1:13, 2 Peter 2:17. There shall be (the)weeping and (the) gnashing of teeth, while within is the feast of the soul, and the song of the blest. Why 'the weeping'? Probably the idea of these as belonging to the punishment of Gehenna was familiar to our Lord's hearers. The same expression occurs six times in Matthew, (see Matthew 13:42, Matthew 13:50, Matthew 22:13, Matthew 24:51, Matthew 25:30) and in Luke 13:28; always with the article, and always associated with the idea of future punishment. (Compare Butts. p. 88.) Bengel understands it to be the weeping by eminence, and adds: "In this life sorrow is not yet sorrow."

Matthew 8:13. Go thy way, go along (compare Matthew 8:4), said here in kindness and encouragement; quite otherwise in Matthew 4:10. So be it done unto thee, more literally, so let it happen to thee, 'come to pass for thee,' the term explained on Matthew 6:10. His faith was great, and so should the blessing be. Our Lord frequently (not always) required faith in order to the reception of his miracles of healing, where there was a person capable of exercising it. But the healing cannot with any show of propriety be considered the effect of imagination, excited by credulous faith, as in some apparent cures at the present day, for in this and various other cases it was not the sufferer that believed, but some other person—and sometimes a person at a distance. (Matthew 15:28, John 4:53) Moreover our Lord wrought miracles upon the dead, and upon inanimate nature, where such an explanation would be out of the question. In the selfsame—or, in that—hour, with some emphasis on 'that.'

III. Matthew 8:14-17. Healing Of Peter's Mother-In-Law,

and of many others. From the parallel accounts in Mark 1:29-34; Luke 4:38-41, it appears that this took place before the delivery of the Sermon on the Mount, and upon a Sabbath-day, after leaving the synagogue in Capernaum. Matthew groups these miracles with little concern for exact time and place. (See on "Matthew 8:1".) Peter's house, at Capernaum, see Mark 1:21, Mark 1:29. Andrew lived with his brother, and James and John accompanied Jesus on a visit to them. Peter and Andrew were natives of Bethsaida, (John 1:44) but had removed to Capernaum. (See the town described on "Matthew 4:18".) It seems strange that Romanists can so insist on the celibacy of the clergy, when Peter himself, of whom the Pope is imagined to be the successor, was a married man, and not only at this time but long after, when at the height of his apostolic labours; and 'the rest of the apostles' were likewise, except Paul. (1 Corinthians 9:5.) Sick of a fever. Malarial fevers are common, from the marshes near the mouth of the Jordan. (Thomson, Geikie.)

Matthew 8:15. It seems from Mark 1:30, and Luke 4:38, that the family requested Jesus to heal her. And he touched her hand. Our Lord several times wrought miracles without touching, and even at a distance, as in the healing of the centurion's slave in the preceding Verses; but he usually performed some act, such as touching the person, taking him by the hand, etc., which would make it evident to all concerned that he was the cause of the miraculous cure. And ministered unto them—literally, as in best texts, waited on him. The verb is explained on Matthew 4:11, and the Greek tense denotes that the action was continued. 'Them,' found in some early documents, is a manifest assimilation to Mark and Luke, where companions of Jesus are mentioned. The service would consist in supplying food, and any other needed attentions—a natural way for a woman in her home to express her gratitude. Jerome: "That hand ministered, which had been touched, and healed." (Compare Luke 10:40, where the same word is rendered 'serving.') A severe fever (Luke 4:38) always leaves a person very weak; but so complete was the miraculous healing, that she was at once prepared for active exertion. Wordsworth: "In the case of Christ's miracles, it was with diseases as with the sea. After the storm there is a swell, before the sea sinks into a calm. But Christ reduced the fury of the sea by a word to perfect calm, as he did the rage of the fever to perfect health."

Matthew 8:16. This miracle became noised abroad, and only deepened the impression produced by the casting out of the unclean spirit that same day in the synagogue. (Mark 1:21-28) So that all the people became anxious to bring their demoniac or diseased friends to seek like miraculous relief. But the Jews were too scrupulous to do this on the Sabbath day. When the even was come. (compare Matthew 14:15) Luke yet more definitely, 'when the sun was setting.' The Jewish day was reckoned as beginning and ending at sunset; so they came the moment the Sabbath was past. Matthew says nothing to show why they waited till evening; he is simply throwing together a number of miracles without giving all the circumstances of their occurrence. It is not to be inferred that Jesus himself shared these scruples about healing on the Sabbath, a thing which he had just done (Mark and Luke), and repeatedly did afterwards. Possessed with devils, much better, demoniacs (as in margin Rev. Ver.), see on Matthew 8:28 and see on "Matthew 4:24". The Evangelist has already mentioned in general (Matthew 4:2) that Jesus healed all the demoniacs that were brought to him during this circuit of Galilee. With his (a) word, just as he had 'with a word' healed the centurion's slave. (Matthew 8:8) All that were sick, a general expression embracing every class of diseases, as in Matthew 4:24. Kitto : "The sun which had set upon an expectant crowd of miserable creatures, arose next morning upon a city from which disease had fled." Our Lord's miracles were very numerous. Those particularly described by the Evangelists are only specimens, and we are repeatedly told in passing, of his healing very many persons and of many diseases. Simply to read the statements in Matthew 4:24, Matthew 9:35; Matthew 11:4 f; Matthew 12:15, Matthew 14:35, Matthew 15:30, Matthew 19:2, would be apt greatly to enlarge one's idea of the extent of his labour of beneficence in this respect.

Matthew 8:17. That it might be fulfilled. This naturally means that the events in question had been actually predicted in the prophecy quoted, and had taken place in the arrangements of Providence in order that the prediction might be fulfilled. (See on "Matthew 1:22"; the particle rendered 'that' is not the same here as there, but has practically the same force.) By Esaias.—More exactly through, as in Matthew 2:5, Matthew 2:17, Matthew 2:23, Matthew 3:3, Matthew 4:14, the idea being by the Lord through the prophet, as fully expressed in Matthew 1:22, Matthew 2:15. 'Isaiah,' instead of 'Esaias,' see on "Matthew 1:2". It is only Matthew that here refers to the fulfilment of a prediction, this being the sixth prophecy which he cites as being fulfilled in Jesus. (Compare Matthew 1:23, Matthew 2:5, Matthew 2:15, Matthew 2:23, Matthew 4:14) Himself took our infirmities and bare our sicknesses. The quotation is from Isaiah 53:4, rendered in Com. Eng. Ver., 'He hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.' The whole passage in Isaiah (52:13-53:12) unquestionably refers to Christ's suffering for men as their substitute. (Compare 1 Peter 2:24) There is thus difficulty in perceiving the ground of the Evangelist's application of this prophecy to our Lord's healing diseases. The original of Isaiah literally means 'Our diseases he took, and our pains he bore,' with slight emphasis both times on 'our' and 'he,' tile word 'pains' comprising both bodily and mental distresses. As to the words, Matthew has thus exactly followed the Hebrew (the hypothesis of his following an oral Aramaic version is believed to be without adequate support), departing from the Sept., which here renders, "He bears our sins, and is pained about us." But how as to the meaning? Christ took upon himself, and thus took away from us, sin and all the distresses produced by sin. These distresses were divinely appointed punishments of sin, and we may suppose that but for Christ's atoning work, God's justice would not have allowed them to cease. For believers in Christ, diseases and various mental sufferings do indeed still continue, yet not as punishments, but to discipline them for their good. What our Saviour suffered, in his life of humiliation and his death of agony, was not, as the prophet says men would think it was, the penalty of wrongdoing on his own part, but was the taking on himself of our sin, and all our consequent woe. Of course he did not endure the precise and identical sufferings, temporal or eternal, which we should otherwise have borne, but what he suffered in our stead made it right that we should be relieved, to some extent even in this life, and completely in eternity, of all the consequences of our sins. His taking away bodily diseases was thus not only a symbol (Meyer), but in some sense a part of his taking away sin. The matter may also be viewed as Plumptre does: "He himself 'took' and 'bore' the sufferings which he removed. He suffered with those he saw suffer. The power to heal was intimately connected with the intensity of his sympathy, and so was followed (as analogous works of love are followed, in those who are most Christ-like in their lives), by weariness and physical exhaustion. What is related by St. Mark and St. Luke of our Lord's seeking out the refuge of solitude at the earliest dawn of the day that followed, is entirely in harmony with the view thus suggested."

Homiletical And Practical

Matthew 8:2 f. This suggests by analogy the need and the means of spiritual healing. Four questions as to our salvation: (1) Is Jesus able to save? (2) Is Jesus willing to save? (3) Do we need to be saved? (4) Do we wish to be saved? Only the last question is really doubtful, and that depends on ourselves.

Matthew 8:4. Do not make loud professions of what Christ has done for you, but prove it by acting according to God's law. Schaff remarks that it is possible to make too much of the miracles—"a kind of materialism, no less than the denial of the possibility of such miracles."

Matthew 8:5 f. The centurion. (1) His munificent gift to the people of God. (Luke 7:5) (2) His affectionate kindness to a servant. (Matthew 8:6, Luke 7:2) (3) His poor opinion of himself. (Matthew 8:8) (4) His great faith in Jesus. (Matthew 8:8, Matthew 8:10) (5) The exact and immediate answer to his petition.—The (Matthew 8:13) three believing centurions. (1) This centurion at Capernaum. (2) The centurion who had charge of the crucifixion (Matthew 27:54) (3) The centurion Cornelius.—A (Acts 10:1) deeply pious soldier. Hall: "Even the bloody trade of war yielded worthy clients to Christ."—Kindness to a servant. Hall: "Had the master been sick, the faithfulest servant could have done no more. He is unworthy to be well served, that will not sometimes wait upon his followers. Conceits of inferiority may not breed in us a neglect of charitable offices. So must we look down upon our servants here on earth, as that we must still look up to our Master which is in heaven."

Matthew 8:7. Developing faith. (1) By refusing all that was asked; (Matthew 15:24) (2) By offering more than was asked; (3) By granting just what was asked.

Matthew 8:8. It was no feigned humility with which the centurion spoke. He deeply felt himself unworthy of the presence and society of the Great Teacher. Yet the Jewish elders thought him worthy.(Luke 7:4)

They who most deserve the esteem of others are apt to have the humblest opinion of themselves; not because ignorant of any excellencies they may have attained, but because more accustomed to dwell on their faults, and more absorbed in the desire to correct them. A man may be conscious of his powers and attainments, may rejoice in his achievements, may be pleased that men praise him, and at the same time be truly humble, and full of gratitude to him who has given it all. This is difficult for human weakness, but so much the more earnestly and prayerfully must it be sought. "What is the first thing in religion? Humility. And what is the second thing in religion? Humility. And what is the third thing in religion? Humility."—Hall: "Many a one, if he had been in the centurion's coat, would have thought well of it; a captain, a man of good ability and command, a founder of a synagogue, a patron of religion; yet he overlooks all these, and when he casts his eye upon the divine worth of Christ and his own weakness, he says, 'I am not worthy.' While he confessed himself unworthy of any favour, he approved himself worthy of all." Edersheim: "Here was one who was in the state described in the first clauses of the Beatitudes, and to whom came the promise of the second clauses; because Christ is the connecting link between the two." Chrys.: "For because he made himself out unworthy, even to receive Christ into his house, he became worthy both of a kingdom, and of attaining unto those good things which Abraham enjoyed."

Matthew 8:9. Obeying and commanding. Hall: "Oh that I could be but such a servant to mine Heavenly Master! Alas! every one of his commands says, 'Do this,' and I do it not; every one of his inhibitions says, 'Do it not,' and I do it. He says, 'Go from the world,' I run to it; he says, 'Come to me,' I run from him. Wo is me! this is not service, but enmity."

Matthew 8:10. Jesus wondering: (1) At the great faith of a heathen (2) At the unbelief of his fellow-townsmen. (Mark 6:6) Believing heathen still often shame those reared in Christian lands.

Matthew 8:15. What can we do for Jesus, who has done so much for us? We cannot now minister to him in the way of personal attention, but (1) We can bring others to be his followers; (John 1:41) (2) We can minister to his suffering brethren; (Matthew 25:40) (3) In general, we can show our love by keeping his commandments. (John 14:15)

Matthew 8:17. Steinmeyer: "As a parable shows on earthly grounds the reflex of a higher truth, in order to serve as a means of explaining the latter, so a miracle which relieves an earthly pain is the symbol of the help within reach for a deeper need. Our Lord cures the sick of the palsy; but the first words of the narrative point most expressly to a higher region. He gives sight to him that was born blind; but the concluding words of the history exclude the thought of a mere deed of compassion."


Verse 18

Matthew 8:18 to Matthew 9:1.
Stilling The Tempest, And Healing The Demoniacs

To the miracles already adduced (see on "Matthew 8:1"), Matthew now adds two which are very remarkable. It is evident from Mark 4:35 ff., and Luke 8:22 ff., that they occurred after the delivery of the parables in Matthew 13, and apparently in the evening of the same day on which those parables were delivered. Matthew is giving a group of miracles in Matthew 8 and Matthew 9.

Matthew 8:18. Great multitudes, literally, many crowds, as in Matthew 4:25, Matthew 8:1, etc. Unto the other side, i.e., of the Lake of Galilee; literally, into the beyond. The region east of the lake and of the lower Jordan was commonly called by the Jews 'The Perea,' i.e., 'The Beyond (region),' see on "Matthew 4:25"and Matthew 19:1. We cannot suppose he sought escape from personal annoyance or discomfort. The fanatical excitement of the people (Matthew 12 and Matthew 13) was rising too high (compare on Matthew 8:4); there was less opportunity to do real good by his teachings when the crowd became so great as to produce confusion and disturbance; and in general, it was his plan to diffuse his labours throughout the country. Mark's phrase, (Mark 4:35) 'when the even was come', (compare Matthew 8:16) might include the late afternoon (see on "Matthew 14:15"). It is thus not certain, though probable, that the stormy passage was after night-fall.

Matthew 8:19. While they were preparing to cross the lake, there occurred the conversation mentioned in Matthew 8:19-22. Mark has no mention of this. Luke (Luke 9:57 ff.) gives similar conversation as taking place at a much later period, on the final journey from Galilee to Jerusalem, six months before the crucifixion. (See below, on "Matthew 19:1".) Perhaps our Lord repeated these sayings, as he often did. (See Introduction to Matthew 5.) Or it may be supposed that either Matthew or Luke has transposed these sayings from another time, as neither gives any distinct expression of connection. And a certain scribe came; literally, 'one scribe' (margin Rev. Ver.), perhaps designed to intimate that, while most of Jesus' followers were men of private station and in humble life, here was one of the teachers, a Rabbi. But in many languages the numeral 'one' came at length to be used as what grammarians call the indefinite article; e. g., German ein; English an, a, from Anglo-Saxon a, Scotch ane; French un, from Latin unus; and so in modern Greek; and it may be that we ought so to understand here (see Winer, p. 117 145), and in Matthew 19:16, Matthew 21:19. There is a similar question as to a few uses of the Hebrew word for 'one.' As to the Scribes, see on "Matthew 2:4". Whithersoever thou goest, (compare Revelation 14:4) not merely now, across the lake, but always and everywhere. This Scribe was already in a broad, general sense, a 'disciple' of Jesus—as is implied by 'another' in Matthew 8:21—but wished to be one of his constant followers.

The various words which the Common Version renders master are as follows: Kurios, usually rendered 'Lord,' whether as applied to God, to the master of a slave, or to any person in respectful address, equal to 'Sir.' (See on "Matthew 8:2".) It is rendered 'master' in Matthew 6:24, Matthew 15:27; and really signifies master in several passages in which it is rendered 'Lord,' as in Matthew 18:25 ff.; Matthew 24:45 ff.; Matthew 25:18., strictly the master of a slave, and rendered by that term in 1 Timothy 6:1 f., etc., is not found in the Gospels. Rabbi, originally signifying a superior (rab, 'great,' like mag-ister from mag—nus), was the common Jewish word for a teacher. It was primarily my rab, 'my teacher,' used only in addressing him, but afterwards also in speaking of him, like Monsieur, Monsignore. A strengthened form was Rabboni, expressing the profoundest respect. (Mark 10:51, John 20:16) It is frequently retained without translation, but is by Com. Ver. rendered 'master' in Matthew 26:25, Matthew 26:49. (Rev Ver., Rabbi.), literally, 'one set over,' variously used in the classics, in New Testament always a teacher, and found only in Luke. (Matthew 5:5 etc.), leader, guide, instructor, only in Matthew 23:10., literally and strictly teacher, is so rendered in John 3:2, and wherever it is used in Acts and the Epistles, (except James 3:1, 'masters') and rendered 'doctor' (a Latin word, meaning teacher) in Luke 2:46. Everywhere else in the Gospels the Com. Ver. renders it 'master,' used like schoolmaster. In the Gospels 'master' always represents some word denoting a 'teacher,' except in Matthew 6:24, Matthew 15:27; Mark 13:35; Luke 14:21, Luke 16:13. In like manner our missionaries among the heathen are constantly addressed by the people as "Teacher."

Matthew 8:20. The birds of the air, or heaven, as in Matthew 6:26. Nests should be habitations or 'haunts,' the word meaning simply a dwelling-place (Rev. Ver., margin); and nests being actually occupied only during incubation. The birds that fly free and wide in the heaven have some regular place to which they come to spend the night. A kindred verb in Matthew 18:32 is rendered 'lodge.' Various Fathers wildly allegorize the foxes and the birds (see Aquinas, Cat. Aur.). Hath not where to lay his head, i.e., no fixed habitation. It does not so much denote extreme poverty and discomfort, as the fact that his life was a wandering one. He had friends, at whose houses he was always welcome, and hospitality was often tendered him by others. But frequently journeying far and wide over the country, even as now he was about to cross the lake into a wild, inhospitable region, his life was one of peculiar trial and self-denying toil, and if the Scribe proposed to follow him wherever he went, he must make up his mind to follow a homeless wanderer, and so to endure many hardships. Euthymius (compare Chrys., Jerome) supposes the Scribe to have thought that large pay was received for the miracles of healing, which we know that Jesus told the Twelve they must perform gratis. (Matthew 10:8) More likely the Scribe was thinking of a temporal Messianic reign, with which the teacher was somehow connected, and which would bring its subjects power and wealth. We see from this incident how careful our Lord was to warn men beforehand what they were to expect in entering upon his service. (compare Luke 14:28-33) And although it is not now the duty of all his followers to spend their lives in wandering labours, it is still the duty of every one to "renounce himself, and take up his cross," and in the highest sense to "follow" Jesus. We are not informed whether the Scribe determined, notwithstanding the warning he had received, that he would still follow the Teacher; one would hope that he did, and would rather infer so from the Evangelist's silence, seeing that on other occasions (e. g., Matthew 19:22, John 6:66) the turning back of various apparent disciples is distinctly recorded; also from the association with the person next mentioned. Expositors have perhaps been severe in their judgment, in taking it for granted that the Scribe's motives were mercenary, and that he turned back at once. He was over confident, and the kind Teacher warned him to count the cost. The Son of man. This remarkable expression was no doubt founded on Daniel 7:13, "I saw in the night visions, and behold, there came with the clouds of heaven one like unto a son of man," Rev. Ver., a passage which the Jewish writers agree in referring to the Messiah. The so-called "Book of Enoch" frequently speaks of the coming Messiah as the Son of man. We learn from John 12:34 that the Jews understood this phrase to mean the Messiah; and from Luke 22:69 f. that they saw little difference between calling him the Son of man and the Son of God. Our Lord's frequent use of the phrase (more than seventy times) constitutes an oft-repeated claim to he the Messiah (e. g., Matthew 24:30, Matthew 26:64); it was also probably designed to render prominent the great fact that he was genuinely and thoroughly a man, a fact which believers in his divinity sometimes fail to appreciate. The phrase is never applied to him by any other than himself, except in Acts 7:56, and perhaps in Revelation 1:13, Revelation 14:14. As the Hebrew phrase originally suggested human feebleness and frailty (as in Psalms 8:4, Psalms 146:3), it may have seemed on that account less appropriate to the now exalted and glorified Redeemer. The many attempts to explain the phrase 'Son of man' in some other sense than as denoting the Messiah, are well stated and briefly refuted in Meyer.

Matthew 8:21. And another of his disciples. Both he and the Scribe must have been disciples only in the wider sense of the term (see on "Matthew 5:1"). Tyndale and Geneva translate "another that was one of his disciples," thus excluding the Scribe, but that is a forced rendering. There is a tradition (Clem. Alex.) that this second man was the apostle Philip, but we have no means of deciding. Conjectures, such as that the Scribe was Judas Iscariot and the other Thomas (Lukenge), or that they were Thomas and Simon Zelotes (Keim), are simply idle. Why will commentators and preachers waste time in such baseless and useless guess-work? Luke 9:59, represents the man as called on by our Lord to follow him, and replying with the request that he might first go and bury his father; Matthew does not mention such a call. The man's request pertained to a matter which the Jews reckoned of great consequence. Thus in Tobit 6:15, Tobias fears that he will die and be the death of his parents, and says, "they have no other son to bury them." It is natural to suppose that this man's father was already dead, and it was the custom to bury the dead very soon; but it was also customary (Lightfoot) to observe thirty days of special mourning, and we cannot decide whether the man meant to include that time. Elisha's somewhat similar request of Elijah was not denied (1 Kings 19:20); and the man might well have thought himself justified in asking leave to go home first. Yet a high priest or a Nazirite was required by the law to avoid the dead body of even father or mother.; (Leviticus 21:11, Numbers 6:6 f.) and one of the late Jewish commentaries says (Wet.) that "when the study of the law and the necessity of burying the dead conflict, care of the dead takes precedence; but that if there is a sufficient number of persons in attendance, the student must not leave the law." Matthew 8:22. Let the dead bury , or, as in Rev. Ver., Leave the dead to bury (so Darby, Davidson), the Greek being stronger than 'let the dead bury.' To bury their (own) dead. This cannot mean let the dead bury each other, i.e., let them remain unburied, for that is a forced explanation and an idea unworthy of our Lord. We must understand the dead spiritually and the dead literally, as in Revelation 3:1. (Compare John 11:25 f.) Such a play upon words is natural and pleasing to the Oriental mind, and different forms of it occur frequently in Scripture, including many passages where it cannot be preserved in translation. (Compare on Matthew 16:25) The idea here is that there were enough of those who were spiritually dead to perform all the offices of affection to the dead, and so Christ's followers were at liberty to devote themselves to their own far higher work. (Compare Matthew 10:37) In Luke's account, (Luke 9:60, Bib. Un. Ver.) we have the addition, 'but go thou and announce the kingdom of God.' It does not follow that Jesus would require all his followers, under all circumstances, to neglect the burial of their dead, in order that they might work exclusively at spreading the gospel; any more than he extends to every one the command laid upon the rich young ruler, to sell all he had and give to the poor. (Matthew 19:21) But we can easily conceive of circumstances now, in which it would be proper to hold in abeyance the strongest prompting of natural affection, in order to do our duty to Jesus; just as a soldier may see his brother fall at his side in a charge, and yet sometimes cannot pause to care for him, but must rush on. Their own dead. In Genesis 23:4, Genesis 23:6 we have the expressions 'my dead, 'thy dead,' and similar expressions are common now. So Jesus means to say that the dead in such a case are not yours, but belong to the spiritually dead, and should be buried by them. Here, as in Matthew 8:20, we are not informed whether the man at once followed Jesus, but it would seem probable that he did. Luke 9:60 f.. adds a third case.

Matthew 8:23. MIRACLE OF STILLING THE TEMPEST (Matthew 8:23-27.) Compare Mark 4:36 ff.; Luke 8:22 ff. Into a ship(1)—or, the boat, probably a boat suited to fishing, and without sails (see on "Matthew 4:21"). It is called 'the boat,' most likely as being the one prepared in pursuance of his order to go across (Matthew 8:18) perhaps it was shoat kept for their regular use. We ought to translate 'boat' and not 'ship.' See on "Matthew 4:21". His disciples followed him, some in the same boat, and others in additional boats mentioned by Mark. (Mark 4:36) These little fishing craft were very numerous on the lake. (John 6:23 f.) The 'disciples' are most naturally understood here as including not merely the Twelve (who as shown by the order of Mark and Luke had been selected before this time) but others of his followers, who could be called disciples in the more general sense of the term. (See on "Matthew 5:1".)

Matthew 8:24. And, behold, an expression much used by Matthew in calling attention to what follows as wonderful. Tempest. The word in the original denotes a shaking or shock, and is usually applied to an earthquake, both in the classical writers and in the New Testament (e. g., Matthew 24:7, Matthew 27:54, Matthew 28:2), but here used for a mighty storm, such as would shake men's dwellings, and seem to make the very earth tremble. Luke (Luke 8:23) tells us yet more distinctly, 'and there came down a storm (another and more common word) of wind upon the lake,' viz., down the ravines on its sides, as often happens (see description of the lake on "Matthew 4:18"). Bartlett witnessed a precisely similar occurrence: "All the day there had not been a breath of air, the sultry heat had been that of a furnace; but now a cool breeze came off the table land, and rushing down the ravines that descend to the lake, began to ruffle its placid bosom. As it grew darker, the breeze increased to a gale, the lake became a sheet of foam, and the white-headed breakers dashed proudly on the rugged beach; its gentle murmur has now changed into the wild and mournful sound of the whistling wind and the agitated waters. Afar off was dimly seen a little barque struggling with the waves, and then lost sight of amidst the misty rack." As the lake is far below the level of the Mediterranean, the air is often greatly heated and ascends rapidly; and into the vacuum comes rushing down the cold air from the eastern and western table lands.—(Thomson.) The ship—boat—was covered, or, 'was becoming covered,' the form of the Greek verb denoting an action in progress; so also in Mark, (Mark 4:37) and Luke (Luke 8:23) But he was asleep—sleeping—the Greek indicating some emphasis on 'he,' i.e., he, for his part. Mark, who so often gives piquant details, adds 'on the cushion,' i.e., the one they had in the boat, as a part of the couch in the stern on which he was lying. This makes a picture: Jesus sleeping with his head on the cushion, while the storm howled, the boat was tossed to and fro, the billows broke over and were rapidly filling it—soundly and quietly sleeping. The order of Mark and Luke make it appear that this was on the evening which followed the blasphemous accusation of chapter 12, and the great group of parables in chapter 13. After a day of such mental strain, the Saviour would naturally be exhausted. Probably also it was night. (See on "Matthew 8:18".)

Matthew 8:25. The disciples—or, they—came. 'His disciples' was an unnecessary addition of the copyists. So with us; read Save, Lord, we perish. Mark (Mark 4:38) has literally 'Teacher' (didaskalos); Luke (Luke 8:24) has 'Master, master' (epistates), see on "Matthew 8:19". It is often evident that the Evangelists have not undertaken to give the exact words used. (See on "Matthew 3:17".) The peril must have been really very great; "for these men exercised to the sea many of them from their youth, and familiar with all the changes of that lake, would not have been terrified by the mere shadow of a danger."—Trench. Luke (Luke 8:22) says expressly, and they "were in jeopardy." 'Save' here of course means save our lives, not referring to the salvation of the soul.

If the language is by us applied to the latter, it is very appropriate, but such application is made on our own authority.

Matthew 8:26. Why are ye fearful, more exactly, cowardly, which expresses the force of the Greek term according to its use in the classics and in the Septuagint. In the New Testament it is found only here (including Mark 4:40) and in Revelation 21:8, or kindred forms in 2 Timothy 1:7; John 14:28, in all which cases the idea of unworthy and discreditable fear is appropriate. O ye of little faith, see on "Matthew 6:30". Faith makes men courageous, and the disciples were discreditably timid, cowardly, because they had so little faith. This is often understood to mean faith in Jesus, but does it not rather mean a lack of faith in the providence of God their Heavenly Father, as in Matthew 6:30? Then he arose and rebuked. He first rebuked the disciples while still lying on the couch, and afterwards arose and rebuked the winds and the sea. This expression involves an obvious personification; (compare Psalms 106:9, Nahum 1:4) and Mark (Mark 4:39) gives the words addressed to the sea, as if speaking to a person, or to some fierce monster. Those words might be rendered 'Be silent, hush'; but the latter word is literally 'be muzzled,' applicable to a furious beast. A great calm, just as there had been 'a great tempest.' (Matthew 8:24) Here was 'a greater than Jonah.' (Matthew 12:41) How perfectly was the Saviour's humanity manifested even when he exercised more than human power. Wearied, in body and in mind, by his labours during the day (see on "Matthew 13:1"), he is sleeping on the cushion; the next moment he rises, and speaks to the winds and the waves with the voice of their Creator. So he wept in human sympathy with the sisters of Lazarus, just before he spoke the word that brought him to life.

Matthew 8:27. And the men marvelled. 'The men' is a general term for the persons present, including such as were disciples, (compare Matthew 14:33) and also very possibly some men employed in the boats. (Mark 4:36) That even the winds and the sea obey him, a thing they had not previously witnessed, which would therefore seem to them more remarkable than that diseases obeyed him. Doubtless also this would especially strike men whose lives had been spent as sailors and fishermen, and who had so often seen exhibited the terrible power of the stormy sea. Stier: "This empire over nature is a new thing which Matthew has to record concerning Jesus. His narrative of: selected miracles in chapters eight and nine rises through a gradation of importance; cleansing of the leper (a great thing even to begin with)—healing at a distance by his word, 'Be it done'—commanding the wind and the sea—saying to the devils 'go'—forgiving the sins of the paralytic (more indeed than saying arise! or, go hence! more than ruling the sea)—finally giving life to the dead."

Matthew 8:28. Healing of the two demoniacs. (Matthew 8:28 to Matthew 9:1) Compare Mark 5:1-21, Luke 8:26-40. If the preceding miracle shows our Lord's command of the forces of nature, that which follows exhibits his power over evil spirits. Trench : "And Christ will do here a yet mightier work than that which he accomplished there; he will prove himself here I also the Prince of peace, the bringer back of the lost harmony; he will speak, and at his potent word this madder strife, this blinder rage which is in the heart of men, will allay itself; and here also there shall be a great calm." Theophyl: "While the men in the boat are doubting what manner of man this is, that even the winds and the sea obey him, the demons come to tell them."

To the other side, viz., of the lake, as in Matthew 8:18. The point reached was below the middle of the lake; and as they had probably come from the vicinity of Capernaum, the voyage would be eight or ten miles. Into the country of the Gergesenes. The text of this and the parallel passages (Mark 5:1; Luke 8:26) is greatly confused, some documents for each of the three passages reading each of the three words, Gadarenes, Gerasenes, Gergesenes. The best documents, however, give Gadarenes in Matthew, and Gerasenes in Mark and Luke. Thomson, Vol. II. p. 353-5, found a village called Gersa, about the middle of the eastern shore, with ancient tombs in the adjacent mountain, and near the village found a steep place exactly suiting the story of the swine. So also Wilson, McGarvey, and Merrill. We thus account for the name Gerasenes entirely apart from the large city of Gerasa, which was some thirty miles away. Gadara was a well-known city lying a few miles southeast of the lake, the ruins of which are still extensive and striking. The country immediately around a city usually belonged to it, and was called by its name; we have only to make the very natural supposition that the village of Gerasa (Khersa) belonged to the territory of Gadara, and we see how the people may be called both Gerasenes and Gadarenes. The name Gergesenes, which might be introduced by students or copyists, is thought by some to have arisen from the Girgashites. (Genesis 10:16, Deuteronomy 7:1; Joshua 3:10) Origen says there was a city called Gergesa near the lake, and Eusebius ("Onom.") says the same, but may have derived it from Origen. The form Gergesa may possibly have been merely a different pronunciation of Gerasa, the r of the latter taking a rattling, guttural sound like that of the strong Ayin, which in modern Arabic sounds much like our rg.(1) But however that may be, the genuine names Gadarenes and Gerasenes, and all the circumstances, are exactly explained by the discovery of Khersa; and in this case, as in many others, current research in text-criticism and Biblical geography is clearing up an once celebrated difficulty. There met him two. Mark and Luke mention only one. It is an obvious explanation to suppose (so already Chrys. and Aug.) that one was more remarkable and prominent than the other. Mark and Luke give more details than Matthew does, and in so doing might naturally take only the more conspicuous case, to render the description more vivid. In Matthew 20:30 also Matthew has two blind men, Mark and Luke but one. Robinson ("Harmony"): "A familiar example will illustrate the principle. In the year 1824, Lafayette visited the United States; and was everywhere welcomed with honours and pageants. Historians will describe these as a noble incident in his life. Other writers will relate the same visit as made, and the same honours as enjoyed, by two persons, viz.: Lafayette and his son. Will there be any contradiction between these two classes of writers? Will not both record the truth?"

Two possessed with devils—demoniacs -literally, 'demonized (persons.') It has always been a matter of dispute whether the demoniacal possessions so often mentioned in the history of our Lord are to be understood as real. Yet it would seem that there ought to be no doubt of their reality, when one considers the following facts: (1) The Evangelists constantly speak of them as real. (2) Jesus himself is recorded as speaking of them in the same way; and even as speaking to the evil spirits; (Mark 1:25) and this not merely before the multitude, but in private conversation with his disciples he says, 'This kind can come out by nothing, save by prayer.' (Mark 9:29, Rev. Ver.) (3) Jesus argues upon the assumption of their reality. (Luke 10:17-20) When the seventy rejoiced that even the demons were subject to them by his name, he said to them, I beheld Satan fallen as lightning out of heaven; that is, he connected their expulsion of demons with the downfall of Satan's power. (4) The demoniacs speak with superhuman knowledge, acknowledging Jesus to be the Son of God. True, he repressed this testimony, (Mark 1:34, Luke 4:41) doubtless because his enemies would otherwise have been ready to charge that the expulsion was a thing arranged between him and Satan for the purpose of deceiving the people; even as we find that, without any such excuse, they did repeatedly say that he cast out demons by league with Beelzebub (see on "Matthew 12:24"). But though the testimony was repressed, it showed superhuman knowledge. These four facts would seem to put the matter beyond question. But there are objections to the reality of the possessions, which are apt to perplex the enquirer. (1) The symptoms, it may be said, often resemble those of certain bodily and mental diseases, such as epilepsy and insanity. Now it is perfectly conceivable that the possessions might produce insanity and nervous diseases; it may be also that persons having such affections became thereby more liable to be taken possession of by evil spirits. This probable relation between them will account for the fact that possessions are often mentioned in connection with various diseases of body or mind, and yet are always distinguished from them. (See Matthew 4:24, Matthew 8:16, Mark 1:34) Also for the use of the term 'heal' with reference to demoniacs. Also for the people's saying, as a familiar phrase, 'Thou hast a demon', (John 7:20, John 8:48-52, John 10:20) where we should say,"You are deranged." The possessed were virtually deranged, whether as effect or occasion of the possession, so as to be the sport of delusive fancies; and notice that in John 10:20 the two are both stated as if distinct: 'He has a demon and is mad'! Thus there is in all this no reason to depart from the plain declarations of Scripture. And the entrance of the evil spirits into the herd of swine is here in point. It might be possible that swine should have physical symptoms resembling insanity, but we could not account for these being suddenly transferred to them from men. (2) The Evangelists and Jesus, in speaking of these possessions as real, are held to be simply employing popular phraseology without endorsing it; as when Scripture writers speak of the sun as rising, standing still, etc. And if Jesus addresses the spirit, bidding it come out, etc., he is supposed to be merely humouring the fancy of the deranged person in order to cure him. But if the belief in demoniacal possessions was erroneous, how far-reaching was that error, and how important, especially in that age of great superstition. As to humouring, etc., the wisest authorities upon the treatment of the insane now say that that is not the best course; they do not contradict so as to exasperate, but neither do they confirm in delusive fancies—they try to divert attention. Thus we should have Jesus adopting a very questionable mode of treatment, which would encourage a most injurious error, when he was able to heal in any way he pleased. See too (Trench), how distinctly false his sayings would become. We speak of lunatics, using the popular term without meaning to endorse the idea in which it had its origin, that such persons are powerfully affected by the moon (in Latin luna); but suppose one addressing the moon, bidding it cease troubling the man, etc., that would be falsehood; and in our Lord's case such gratuitous deception is incredible. (3) Why should these possessions occur only about the time of our Lord's sojourn upon the earth? It is not absolutely certain that they do not always exist; and mere uncertainty on that point destroys the force of the objection, as an objection. But we can see a reason why they should occur only then; or should then be especially manifested and recognized. The Eternal Word was then manifesting himself in the flesh; and thus the great struggle which is always going on was brought out into visible appearance, so as to exhibit in a visible and striking way the absolute powerlessness of the evil spirits to contend against God. (Compare at the beginning of Matthew 4, as to the appearance of Satan in bodily form.) (4) The thing itself is so hard to understand. But this might be expected in such a subject. And can we understand the union of the divine and human nature in the person of Jesus; the action of the Holy Spirit on the human spirit; or the connection of our own mind and body? Yet none the less are all these facts. It appears then that the demoniacal possessions are to be received as a reality. And thus regarded they are not only wonderful, but instructive. The expulsion of the evil spirits by Jesus and his apostles, was a signal exhibition of the beneficent character of the gospel and of the Saviour; a striking proof of his divine mission; and an impressive manifestation of that victory over Satan by our Lord, which is real already, and shall in due time be complete. Finally, we thus vindicate as correct the plain, obvious meaning of Scripture statements, which, seeing that the Scriptures were written for the people, is a matter of great importance.—The Gospel of John does not mention the casting out of demons by Jesus (though it refers to the popular belief in demoniacal possessions, John 7:20, John 8:48-52, John 10:20 f.). But we must remember that John mentions very few incidents of our Saviour's ministry, usually such only as formed the occasion of some remarkable discourse. Demoniacal possessions are not mentioned in the Old Testament nor the Apocrypha, nor (Edersheim) in the Mishna, yet arc repeatedly mentioned in Josephus ("Ant.," 6, 8, 2; 6, 11, 3; 8, 2, 5;" War," 7, 6, 3). But the popular Jewish views were quite different from those of the New Testament (Edersheim App. XVI.) (As to 'devil' and 'demon,' see below on "Matthew 8:31".)

Coming out of the tombs. Driven from the town by the fears of the people or by their own frenzy, the poor demoniacs would find the caves, or chambers hewn in the rock, and appropriated to the dead, a convenient and perhaps congenial abode; though no Jew in his right mind would dwell in a tomb, which would make him in the ceremonial sense perpetually unclean. Such rocky tombs still abound in the mountains lying east of the southern part of the lake. Luke (Luke 8:27) seems in Com. Ver. to contradict Matthew's statement, saying, 'There met him out of the city a certain man,' but the correct rendering of Luke is, 'there met him a certain man out of the city,' viz., a man who was a citizen of the city. So that no man might pass by that way, viz., along the road that passed near the tombs, and led from the place at which the boat had landed towards the city. The unfortunate men had first rushed forth to meet Jesus and his followers, precisely as they had often done to others who came along the road, Mark and Luke give many additional particulars concerning the more conspicuous demoniac whom they describe.

Matthew 8:29. And, behold, calling special attention, as in Matthew 8:24, Matthew 8:32, Matthew 8:34, and very often in Matthew. What have we to do with thee, literally, 'What (is there) to us and thee,' a phrase found in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin (Buttm., p. 238), and which obviously means, what have we in common, what have we to do with each other? It would express a severe rebuke, (2 Samuel 16:10, Ezra 4:8) or a mild repulse, (John 2:4) according to the circumstances, the relation of the parties, and the manner of utterance. Thou Son of God. The name Jesus was wrongly inserted here in many documents, by way of assimilation to Mark and Luke. It is evident that the men spoke what the evil spirits thought and felt. We cannot determine just how much these dark beings did feel. It is likely that they very imperfectly understood what was involved in calling Jesus the Son of God; and the same was probably true of Satan, their chief (compare on Matthew 4:3). Mark (Mark 3:11 f.) declares this testimony to have been given in all cases, but he may be referring only to a particular period of our Lord's ministry. To torment us before the time. The word rendered 'time' means 'occasion,' 'season,' etc. (See on Matthew 11:25.) The evil spirits were persuaded that a worse torment than they had ever endured awaited them at some future period, and they shrank from the thought that the Son of God might be about to inflict such aggravated torment by anticipation. We are told in Judges 1:6 that this future occasion is "the judgment of the great day," after which time Satan and his agents "shall be tormented day and night forever and ever."—There (Revelation 20:10) are striking contradictions in the conduct of the demoniacs; they came forth fiercely to meet Jesus and his followers; as they drew near they 'ran and worshipped him'; (Mark 5:6) and now they speak words of dread and dislike. Such self-contradictions, such sudden changes of feeling, would seem perfectly natural for one possessed by an evil spirit; at one moment he expresses his own feeling of distress and need, at another he speaks for the dreadful being who occupies and controls him.

Matthew 8:30. A good—long—way from them, the same Greek term as in Luke 15:20 and Acts 22:21. The old Latin and the Vulgate, followed of course by Wyclif and Rheims, have 'not a long way' probably to avoid a supposed conflict with Mark (Mark 5:11) and Luke, (Luke 8:32) who say 'there was there a herd,' etc. Tyndale and his followers, accustomed to read the Vulgate, seem to have had the same fear, so that while following the Greek in omitting 'not' they yet softened the expression into 'a good way.' But 'a long way' is obviously a relative expression, signifying a greater or less distance according to circumstances. Matthew apparently wished to show that the herd was too far off to be frightened by the demoniacs. Absurd as such a fancy might seem there have not been wanting "rationalists" of recent times to say that the "maniacs" ran in among the herd, and terrified them into a stampede (see even Ewald); or that the convulsions and cries attendant upon their healing had that effect. Mark and Luke simply tell us that the herd was there, without saying that it was near or far away; and Mark, according to his custom of giving descriptive details, adds 'near the mountain,' that is, the mountain range which runs along near the eastern side of the lake. (See on "Matthew 4:18".) A herd of many swine. Mark says they were 'about two thousand.'

Matthew 8:31. And the devils (demons) besought him. The word 'devil' (see on "Matthew 4:1") is a contraction of diabolos, the Greek name of him who is in the Hebrew called Satan. This Greek word is applied in Scripture only to Satan, never to his subordinates, who are described by daimon, from which we derive demon, demoniac, etc., or daimonion, a diminutive form with equivalent meaning. The term 'devil' has become familiar to English usage as denoting either Satan or one of his subordinates, and the English Revisers of 1881 were unwilling to abandon it; while the American Revisers preferred 'demon,' which is certainly much better; for sometimes it is important to distinguish between the two words. Matthew speaks of the demons without intimating whether there were simply two, one in each possessed person, or more. Mark and Luke say that the more conspicuous person declared himself possessed by a legion of demons, and the full Roman legion of that day amounted to six thousand men. The correct reading here is not suffer us to go away, resembling Luke 8:32, but send us away, resembling Mark 5:12.

Matthew 8:32. Go—or, go along—'away with you,' the same word as in Matthew 4:10, Matthew 5:24, Matthew 5:41, Matthew 8:4, Matthew 8:13. The whole herd. Some copyists made the useless addition 'of swine.' A steep place, literally, the precipice—i.e., the one leading from the plain on which they were feeding, into the sea. And perished. The word is really 'died' (so Geneva, Rheims, Darby, Davidson), and there was never anything gained by substituting Tyndale's 'perished.' Swine are extremely averse to entering deep water, and require to be forced into it; so there could be no mistake here as to the cause. The fact that irrational animals were thus possessed by the evil spirits shows that the possession of men cannot have been merely a matter of imagination or insanity.(See on "Matthew 8:28".)

The question has often been raised, How was it right for our Lord to destroy so much valuable property? We need not have recourse to the supposition that the owners were Jews, whom the law forbade to eat swine and the Scribes forbade to keep them, and that so their property was confiscated. It is enough to say that the Saviour was acting in the exercise of Divine Sovereignty. Stier : "The question why our Lord permitted the demons to enter the swine, is already answered by another question—Why had the Lord permitted them to enter the men?" Godet : "It is one of those cases in which the power, by its very nature, guarantees the right." All the other miracles of Jesus, save this, and the destruction of the fig-tree (see on "Matthew 21:19"), were purely beneficent in their character and tendency. Moreover the important lessons we may learn from this extraordinary occurrence, the light it sheds on the reality of demoniacal possessions, will amply account for the destruction of property.

It has also been inquired why the demons, after earnestly begging permission to take refuge in the swine, should immediately cause them to destroy themselves. It may be supposed that in their malignity they took delight in doing any harm, even destroying property. Theophylact and Euthymius think they wished to destroy the swine for the purpose of prejudicing the owners against Jesus—a result which actually followed.

Matthew 8:33. And they that kept—i.e., fed—them. The word is rendered 'feed' in the parallel passages of Mark and Luke, and everywhere else in the New Testament, and it was very little worth while for the King James Version, in its passion for variety (and following Great Bible) to employ here another word, 'kept.' Went their ways into the city, viz., Gerasa (Khersa, see on "Matthew 8:28".) And told every thing, and what was befallen, etc.—literally, and the (things) of the demonized; what had happened to them. The first thing reluctantly told would be the loss of the swine, the rest being secondary in the view of the swine-herds.

Matthew 8:34. And, behold, for this too was wonderful. (Compare Matthew 8:24, Matthew 8:29, Matthew 8:32) The whole city, an obvious and natural hyperbole, such as we frequently employ. (Compare on Matthew 3:5) Luke (Luke 8:34-37) adds that the swine-herds had carried the news, not only into the city, but into the fields, and that all the multitude of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes came forth. That he would depart(1) out of their coasts. 'From' and not 'out of,' see on "Matthew 3:16". 'Borders' rather than 'coasts,' as in Matthew 2:16, Rev. Ver.; Matthew 4:13. 'Depart' is not the word commonly thus rendered, but signifies literally, to remove, transfer oneself. Why did they wish him to leave? Partly, no doubt, because their property had been destroyed, and they feared other losses, partly also (see already Theod. Mops., Jerome, in Cat.), because their conscience was aroused by such an exhibition of divine power, and conscious of guilt they felt uneasy in his presence. Compare the feelings of Peter after the miraculous draught of fishes, (Luke 5:8) and contrast the conduct of the Samaritans of Sychar. (John 4:40) While meekly retiring at the request of the frightened people, he left them efficient teachers in the men who had been dispossessed; (Luke 8:38 f.) and he afterwards revisited their country.—This (Matthew 15:29) miracle forms the most instructive and impressive instance of demoniacal possession found in the Gospels. The whole scene appears before us with a vivid and terrible reality.

Homiletical And Practical

Matthew 8:19 f. The Scribe: (1) Willing, (a) to accept the teachings of Jesus, (b) to share his fortunes. (2) Warned, to count the cost of following him; compare Luke 14:28-33. (3) Went on, notwithstanding. So let us suppose he did, and so let us do.—Ministers and churches ought to note the Saviour's example in regard to this Scribe, and declare plainly to all who propose to be his followers, what it is they are undertaking. In dealing with a Scribe, with any person of superior cultivation and position, we are in danger of too readily taking for granted that he understands the whole matter. Ryle: "Nothing has done more harm to Christianity than the practice of filling the ranks of Christ's army with every volunteer who is willing to make a little profession, and talk fluently of his experience." Stier: "Nothing was less aimed at by our Lord than to have followers, unless they were genuine and sound; he is as far from desiring this as it would have been easy to attain it."

Luke 14:20. Jesus the wandering missionary.

Luke 14:21 f. Even the strongest natural feelings must sometimes give way to Christian duties. Even sacred natural duties may have to be disregarded for Christ's sake. How much less then should any ordinary matters turn us away from spiritual thoughts or activities. Theophyl.: "We must honour our parents, but honour God still more highly." Lutteroth: "What good thing could be accomplished on earth if affections must override obligations?" Henry: "An unwilling mind never lacks an excuse. Many are hindered from and in the way of serious godliness, by an over-concern for their families and relations."

Luke 14:28. Bengal: "Jesus had a travelling school; and in that school the disciples were much more solidly instructed than if they had lived under a college roof without any anxiety and temptation."

Luke 14:24. Contrast Jesus and Jonah sleeping amid a storm. Chrys.: "Their very alarm was a profitable occurrence, that the miracle might appear greater, and their remembrance of the event be rendered lasting....Therefore also he sleeps; for had he been awake when it happened, either they would not have feared, or they would not have besought him, or they would not have even thought of his being able to do any such thing. Therefore he sleeps, to give occasion for their timidity, and to make their perception of what was happening more distinct."

Luke 14:26. Stilling the tempest. (1) Jesus sleeping soundly amid the storm—after a day of great exertion and strain—the picture. (2) The disciples afraid, through lack of faith in God—they awake the sleeping Master to save them (3) He stills the tempest by a word, (compare Mark 4:39) as by a word he had healed the centurion's servant. (Matthew 8:8, Matthew 8:13) (4) The disciples greatly wondering that the winds and the sea obey him; we no longer wonder, but we too must obey.—All the sufferings and perils to which in God's providence we may be exposed, are trials of our faith. If we have strong faith we shall not yield to craven fear. "With Christ in the vessel, I smile at the storm." This tempest doubtless proved a great blessing to the disciples in strengthening their faith; and our trials are among our greatest blessings, if they have a similar effect.—Not in the way of exegesis, but of illustration, we may say that there are storms in life, stormy passions in the soul, which only Christ can calm.

Luke 14:27. Nicoll: "It is incomplete to say that the miracles justify belief in Christ, and it is equally incomplete to say that it is belief in Christ that makes miracles credible. Christ comes before us as a whole—his person and his work. It is impossible to separate the two, and we believe in the whole—that is, in both."

Luke 14:29. Chrys.: "Because the multitudes called him man, the demons came proclaiming his Godhead, and they that heard not the sea swelling and subsiding, heard from the demons the same cry, as it, by its calm, was loudly uttering."

Luke 14:31. Here was very earnest asking, but we should not call it prayer. And the thing asked was granted, as was Satan's request with respect to Job; yet it was not the prayer which God approves and accepts. Let us beware lest our supplications be sometimes the mere utterance of selfish desire, and not the prayer of a trusting, loving, devout spirit.

Luke 14:34. Luther: "The mass of men would gladly hold to the gospel, if it did not touch their kitchen and income. If Jesus gives them good things, they can very well endure him; but when he inflicts damage, as here, they say, 'Begone, Jesus, gospel, and all.' " Hall: "O Saviour, thou hast just cause to be weary of us, even while we sue to hold thee; but when once our wretched unthankfulness grows weary of thee, who can pity us to be punished with thy departure?"

Matthew 9:1. This sentence is the end of the narrative beginning with Matthew 8:18, and should by all means have formed a part of the preceding chapter. Compare on Matthew 10:1. Mark (Mark 5:18 ff.) and Luke (Luke 8:38 f.) relate that when Jesus had entered the boat, the man who had been delivered begged to go with him, but was sent back to tell what God had done for him. (Compare on Matthew 8:4) Passed over, and came into his own city, viz., Capernaum. (See on "Matthew 4:13".) Chrys. remarks (Cat.), "For Bethlehem bore him, Nazareth reared him, Capernaum was his residence."

 


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Bibliography Information
Broadus, John. "Commentary on Matthew 8:4". "John Broadus' Commentary on Matthew". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jbm/matthew-8.html. 1886.

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